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ADB’s Development Outlook Outlines Asia’s Energy Challenges

ADB9 April 2013: The annual economic outlook report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) focuses on rising energy demand in Asia, recommending actions to adopt new energy sources and create integrated regional energy markets in order to protect economic growth and curb carbon emissions.

The Asian Development Outlook 2013 features a thematic chapter on “Asia's Energy Challenge,” which presents data on rapidly rising consumption of fossil fuels in Asia and stresses the region's increasing contribution to carbon emissions. It emphasizes the need to contain demand through: adopting energy efficiency measures; exploring cleaner energy options; and integrating a pan-Asian regional market with cross-border power and gas grids.

The report further underlines that while Asia's energy demands are growing in parallel with its rising contribution to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), very few countries have sufficient indigenous sources of energy. It notes that despite increased economic growth, most of the world's energy-poor live in Asia, depending on traditional fuels such as kerosene, firewood, dung, charcoal and coal.

The Outlook highlights the potential of various alternative fuels, including shale gas, hydropower, wind and solar power to meet the region's energy needs, while acknowledging that expanding new energy sources will not be enough to meet future demand. It recommends a range of public investments to make conventional power cleaner and more efficient, in relation to “smart cities,” green transport, and switching electricity for gas. The report also addresses the need to roll back fuel subsidies in order to promote cleaner and more sustainable energy choices.

On regional integration, the Outlook recommends cross-border power and gas grids, but also recognizes that official development assistance (ODA) will be needed to build the necessary infrastructure to benefit poorer consumers and those in remote locations. [Publication: Asian Development Outlook 2013] [ADB Press Release]