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Asia Could Have 3 Gigawatts of Solar Projects by 2013, ADB Says

The Asian Development Bank expects a fund it established to identify and develop sun-powered projects to help increase solar capacity in the region sixfold to 3,000 megawatts by 2013.

The Asia Solar Energy Initiative, established in May, will help countries in the region install 1,000 megawatts by the end of 2011, up from 500 megawatts before the initiative began, the bank said today in a statement. The ADB may fund about $2.25 billion of the estimated $9 billion cost to reach 3,000 megawatts, Haruhiko Kuroda, president of the Asian Development Bank, said at a briefing today in Tokyo.

The announcement occurs as two weeks of United Nations-led talks aimed at reaching a global agreement to tackle climate change are underway in Cancun, Mexico. Kuroda said negotiators there are seeking to strike a balance between economic development and sustainability, and that solar power can be a key contributor to mitigating climate change in Asia.

“Asian countries will need to aim to maintain economic progress and improve energy security, while simultaneously charting a new low-carbon development path,” he said. “This initiative could contribute significantly to the issues under consideration in Cancun.”

The bank set a target of 3,000 megawatts to provide enough scale to create momentum and drive down costs, Kuroda said. While wind power is currently cheaper than solar in the region, the bank expects the cost differential to narrow and eventually be reversed as more solar is installed, he said.

“Solar power has the greatest potential,” he said.

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