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Too costly to pull out coal-fired power projects in the pipeline–ADB expert

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has admitted that it may be difficult to cancel coal-fired power plant projects that have been included in the pipeline of countries at this time.

During a session at the 16th Asian Clean Energy Forum (ACEF), ADB Southeast Asia Department Senior Energy Specialist David Elzinga said it may already be too costly to pull out these contracts.

Elzinga said this means that governments must not only impose moratoriums on the use of coal but also provide alternatives such as investing in renewables.

“Imposing a moratorium is a good start but [governments must also] provide alternatives,” Elzinga said in the open forum of the session on Thursday. “Reliability and adequacy are important.”

In his presentation, Elzinga said the “coal fleet” of Southeast Asia, which includes the Philippines, is set to significantly increase in the medium term.

“Large-scale solution is needed to simultaneously rapidly decarbonize and build-up clean energy in Asian developing countries,” Elzinga said.

This is the reason for an upcoming technical assistance (TA) project, which aims to accelerate the clean energy transition of countries in Southeast Asia.

The project will include investments in new renewable-energy (RE) capacity and create opportunities for energy efficiency improvements.

The TA will also create a mechanism for accelerating the phase out of coal and other fossil fuel-based generation assets; promote energy sector governance and transparency; and regional power grid integration.

Meanwhile, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) coordinator Lidy Nacpil challenged participants of the ACEF to aim for a fossil fuel free-Asia way before 2050, if the world is to keep on track for keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Nacpil said that this will not happen if many of the governments, institutions, and corporations participating in the forum, including the host itself, still insist on supporting the expansion of fossil fuel energy in the region.

“The cost of developing and using clean and renewable energy technologies no longer remains a barrier to a swift and just transition out of fossil fuels. There is no need to lock in Asian economies to many more decades of dirty energy by continuing to build new fossil fuel projects,” Nacpil said.

“The International Energy Agency, in its latest report, affirms what we have been saying—there should be ‘no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects’ and that ‘no new oil and natural gas fields are needed,’” Nacpil said.

The APMDD and its members and partners also challenged countries and institutions participating in the 2021 ACEF to come out with clear and time-bound road maps to end the use of fossil fuels in Asia before 2050, and to commit to immediately end financing of new fossil fuel projects.

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