Off-grid renewable energy can expand clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity access in rural areas, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said at a conference in Manila today. The 2nd International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition (IOREC), organized by IRENA, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), highlights that small-scale or off-grid renewable energy-based solutions offer an important opportunity to achieving universal access to electricity.
The conference is focusing on the current status of energy access in the Asia-Pacific region and gathers perspectives from different stakeholders working towards improving access to modern energy services.
“Access to clean and reliable electricity supply is vital for social and economic development, and off-grid renewables present a cost-effective, clean and reliable solution for electricity access in rural, peri-urban and island contexts,” Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s Director-General said at the meeting. “To fully utilise this off-grid opportunity, we need dedicated policies, enabling regulations, access to financing, tailor-made business models and the quick adoption of technologies. To achieve this, IRENA is developing its collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.”
Beyond the energy sector, conference delegates also discussed the striking synergies between rural electrification and other sectors critical to human development. Access to electricity can improve accessibility and reliability of water supply, facilitate extension of basic rural healthcare services and enable the outreach of telecommunication services in rural or island contexts.
During the opening session on Monday, IRENA and ADB entered into a memorandum of understanding, outlining comprehensive cooperation between the two institutions to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in the Asia and Pacific region.
“ADB and IRENA share a common goal of promoting renewable energy,” said Nessim Ahmad, Officer-in-Charge, Regional and Sustainable Development Department, ADB. “By combining our capacity and knowledge, our collective efforts have the potential to reach far more people, much more quickly.”
Also speaking during the opening session was Ernesto Macias, President of the ARE, one of the three co-organizing bodies. “As the international private sector reference for off-grid renewable energies ARE is glad about IRENA’s increasing activity in this field,” said Mr. Macias. “We especially value the decision by its members to establish IOREC as the long-term platform for mutual exchange between public sector decision-makers, financiers and even more importantly practicioners. With their long standing experiences they have shown remarkable results to make decentralised renewable energies a very valuable option for developing countries to provide for universal energy access in the near future.”
Over 400 conference delegates, including representatives from public and private sector and civil society are focusing on solutions to overcome key barriers to the scale up of off-grid renewable energy deployment in the region by sharing best practices about design and implementation of enabling policies, innovative financing solutions and tailor-made renewable energy systems.
The second edition of the IOREC this week in Manila follows from a successful first conference in Accra, Ghana, held in 2012.