US Announces $350M Initiative for Clean Energy in Developing Nations

On Monday at the Copenhagen climate conference, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the launch of a new, $350 million initiative to promote clean energy technologies in developing countries. 

The US has pledged $85 million to the programs, with the remaining amounts to be covered by other industrialized nations.

The Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI) includes three new clean energy technology programs and funding needed to launch a renewable energy program under the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund:

  • The Solar and LED Energy Access Program will accelerate deployment of affordable solar home systems and LED lanterns to those without access to electricity. This program will yield immediate economic and public health benefits by providing households with low-cost and quality-assured solar alternatives to expensive and polluting kerosene.
  • The Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment Program will harness the market and convening power of MEF (Major Emitters Forum) countries to improve efficiency for appliances traded throughout the world. A number of MEF countries have implemented, or are exploring, incentive programs for energy-efficient appliances. Coordinating incentives, standards and labeling systems can create unprecedented economies of scale for these appliances.
  • The Clean Energy Information Platform will establish an online platform for MEF countries to exchange technical resources, policy experience and the infrastructure to coordinate various activities in deploying clean energy technologies, and share this information with the world.
  • The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (S-REP), under the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund, will provide policy support and technical assistance to low-income countries developing national renewable energy strategies and underwrite additional capital costs associated with renewable energy investments. Funding through Climate REDI will accelerate the launch of S-REP.

DOE said Climate REDI is meant to be a “quick-start” initiative to complement the much broader technology and finance mechanisms of an international climate agreement.

Climate REDI will coordinate with other programs that promote clean energy technologies in developing countries. For the Solar and LED Program, this includes the International Finance Corporation’s Lighting Africa initiative, TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lumina Project. For the Super-efficient Appliance Program, it includes the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC), the Collaborative Labeling and Standards Program (CLASP), EPA’s Energy Star program and the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The Clean Energy Information Platform builds upon the OpenEI platform, developed by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). And Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program is an activity under the Climate Investment Funds, a multilateral, multibillion dollar trust fund housed at the World Bank.

The combined budget for these programs is $350 million over five years. Funding for the first three programs above will total $100 million–$35 million that the United States intends to contribute, with the balance from Italy, Australia and other partners. Funding for the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program will total $250 million–-$50 million that the United States intends to contribute and $200 million that the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland pledged previously. 

Major Economies Forum Technology Action Plans

President Obama launched the Major Economies Forum in March 2009, creating a new dialogue among developed and emerging economies to combat climate change and promote clean energy.  At their July summit in L’Aquila, Italy, MEF Leaders launched a new Global Partnership on clean energy technologies.

Monday MEF countries, including the United States, released ten Technology Action Plans developed under the Global Partnership. These plans summarize mitigation potential of high-priority technologies, highlight best practice policies, and provide a menu of specific actions that countries can take individually and collectively to accelerate development and deployment of low-carbon solutions. The ten technology areas and lead countries are:

Advanced vehicles (Canada)
Bioenergy (Brazil and Italy)
Building energy efficiency (United States)
Carbon capture, use and storage (Australia and the UK)
High-efficiency, low-emissions coal (India and Japan)
Industrial energy efficiency (United States)
Marine energy (France)
Smart grid (Italy and Korea)
Solar energy (Germany and Spain)
Wind energy (Germany, Denmark and Spain)

To drive this work forward and continue concrete action on global clean energy technology deployment, Secretary Chu today announced that he will host a first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial for MEF and other countries in Washington, D.C., next year.

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