Speaking at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen this morning, United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced a new initiative to help developing nations adopt clean and renewable energy sources, including support for solar technologies.
The US will contribute $85 million over five years to the $350 million international fund.
The Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative – or Climate REDI – has four components, said Chu:
- The Solar and LED Energy Access Program to “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 to “harness the market and convening power of MEF 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 to “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 to “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.”
“A Tiny Step,” Say Some
Chu’s announcement received a tepid response from at least one expert in the field.
“The DOE push for clean energy in the developing world is positive news, but it is just a tiny step in the right direction,” Katherine Lucey, founder & executive director of Solar Sister, Inc., told The Phoenix Sun by twitter. “The US can and should be committing more resources than $35 million over five years to the dissemination of clean energy technologies.”
Lucey founded the non-profit Solar Sister to “empower women and girls of Africa with solar technology.”
Quick Start on Renewable Energy
A DOE press release issued this morning outlines the primary purpose behind the Climate REDI initiative:
Climate REDI is a “quick-start” initiative to complement the much broader technology and finance mechanisms of an international climate agreement. It will promote dissemination of clean energy technologies through the following tools:
1. Quality assurance to guard developing country consumers against sub-standard renewable energy products;
2. Minimum efficiency standards to remove the lowest efficiency appliances from the market;
3. Labeling to guide consumers to quality-assured and high-efficiency products;
4. Financing for scale up of early-stage low-carbon products, to bring down costs and remove barriers to deployment and to catalyze investment by the private sector;
5. Information sharing that enables all energy stakeholders to access state-of-the art information on technology and best practices.
To achieve the best results, Climate REDI will coordinate closely 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. (These previous pledges were subject to receipt of $250 million in total contributions, a condition satisfied by the United States’ announcement today, allowing the entire program to go forward.)