Deployment and transfer of clean, environmentally sound technologies is going to play a crucial role if we are to meet the challenge of tackling climate change. This was a hot topic at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, and as the post-2015 development agenda gathers pace, the United Nations brought together government officials and experts from all over the world in a series of General Assembly Structured Dialogues to think about potential ways to facilitate technology transfer. I was one of the panelists who participated in the first two dialogues on April 29-30, and I shared the experience of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) in demonstrating, deploying, and transferring low-carbon technologies on the ground.
Given our raison d’etre to scale up financing for low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies for transformational impact, the debate on technology facilitation mechanism is an important one. And it’s an area where we are keen to share our learning. I explained to the participants that the CIF has financed projects in 48 countries worldwide, ranging from middle-income countries to least developed countries and fragile states. Our Clean Technology Fund (CTF) works solely in the former category and provides countries with USD 5.5 billion in highly concessional finance to scale up renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban transport, with an explicit objective of technology demonstration, deployment, and transfer.
Among the most promising renewable technologies that could contribute to the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is concentrated solar power (CSP). The CTF is investing USD 1.2 billion in CSP worldwide, from the Middle East and North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan) to Chile, India, and South Africa. The Ouarzazate CSP plant in Morocco alone, with USD 197 million in CTF co-financing, expects to save 7 million tons of CO2 over 30 years.
With the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), we have organized three dialogues to distill lessons from the CTF and global experience of CSP development. Two studies have been published, one on the role of public finance in CSP and the other on the Rajasthan Sun Technique 100 MW CSP plan in India. A third study will be released shortly on the Eskom 100 MW CSP Power Tower in South Africa.
For the very poor countries, the CIF has been working to deploy and transfer clean, low-carbon technologies through the Program for Scaling up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP). Although the SREP does not have the same resources as the CTF nor operates in countries with as many resources, it has played a critical role in the current pilot countries to launch policy dialogues and investment activities in renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, the interest in the SREP from low income countries worldwide has been strong and growing. The recent call for expressions of interest to participate in the SREP has met with overwhelming responses from 40 countries (out of 55 eligible countries).
In my presentation, I also emphasized the importance of country ownership in all CIF investment planning and implementation. Recipient countries take the lead in developing their investment plans and setting priorities for CIF investments in their countries. The process for each country may be different but what unites them all is that the implemented programs are rooted deeply and broadly into country plans to achieve lasting transformational change.
With our ever-increasing experience, we hope that our contribution as a “doer” can bring practical experience to what can often be a theoretical debate on technology transfer. The link to finance is an important one but has been understated in the discussions so far. My sense is that, gradually, this is changing.
So, too, is the general mood music around the issue of technology transfer and there was a very constructive spirit to the dialogues. But a constructive tone only matters if it facilitates concrete actions and results. The CIF will continue to learn by doing and to share our knowledge and experience in making technology transfer happen on the ground.