Norway reaffirms support for Energy+ plan

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    LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters Point Carbon)

    A girl waits with empty containers to buy kerosene, the main cooking fuel, in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, Feb. 26, 2008. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar
    A girl waits with empty containers to buy kerosene, the main cooking fuel, in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, Feb. 26, 2008. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

    Norway has given fresh backing to a scheme that aims to help poor nations access energy while curbing their emissions, despite its first year being blighted by a failure to find other donors and wrangling over who should get funding.

    Launched last June at the Rio+20 summit, the Energy+ Partnership was designed to have several richer countries give money to poorer ones to help build new and more efficient power plants and develop a new market-based system to limit emissions from global energy production.

    While Norway made the scheme’s first cash handout of NOK 20 million ($3.4 million) last December to Ethiopia and plans further donations to Bhutan and Nepal within months, other potential partners such as the UK and France have not pledged any.

    The first payment is a tiny fraction of the NOK 850 million Norway pledged at Rio+20 to give to Ethiopia, Kenya and Liberia, with a later NOK 100 million pledge to Bhutan, in staged payments over five years.

    “It is my intention to strengthen our efforts to develop Energy+ into a real international partnership,” said Norway’s international development minister Heikki Eidsvoll Holmas in an emailed statement.

    He said Energy+ was just one of several instruments Norway can deploy to deliver its key priority of access to energy and to improve economic and social development in poor countries.

    The initiative is designed to help meet U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon’s 2030 goals of doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, ensuring universal access to modern energy services and double the rate of energy efficiency improvement.

    PRIVATE SECTOR

    In addition to electrifying poor communities, it was also drawn up to help drive efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries at a time when private sector investment in emission reduction projects in developing nations is contracting.

    Investment in the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism has dried up as a lack of demand for the credits generated has hammered prices to around 60 cents from over 20 euros four years ago.

    Dag Arne Hoystad of Norwegian green group Naturverfobundet was still hopeful that Energy+ could improve access to energy among poor people in rural areas by focusing on smaller scale energy projects rather than the large hydropower schemes that had previously drawn most government funds.

    “It seems this system of performance-based payments has changed the type of projects that can get funding.”

    Despite this he said it would take much longer for the government payments to enable private sector investments by creating policies such as donor-backed feed-in-tariffs for renewable power schemes.

    PILOT SCHEME

    Hans Olav Ibrekk, an official with Norway’s foreign ministry, said if the government could demonstrate success with its first payments it would encourage other nations to pledge money to the initiative rather than deploying cash under their own aid programmes.

    “It is important to deliver some practical approaches to demonstrate to other donors,” he said, adding that Denmark was planning to launch an Energy+ partnership with Nepal in the coming months.

    He said there had been “slow progress” in giving cash to Liberia and the government’s co-operation with Kenya had been “put on hold”.

    Ibrekk said Norway could also expand beyond its current plans to give cash to four countries.

    “We will not expand greatly, but we need to expand somewhat to diversify the portfolio. We are looking into new countries,” he said.

    The other developed nations committed as Energy+ partners are UK, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, South Korea, and Iceland while the other developing nations formerly signed up are the Maldives, Senegal, Morocco, Tanzania, Mali, Grenada and Mozambique.

    Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation