Investing in the energy transition

Technology to address the health and environmental issues associated with cooking with wood and charcoal has been developed in Cambodia, in efforts towards clean energy.

clean energy cambodia
Around 487 clean energy initiatives have been inducted into the PFAN project development pipeline with initiatives that include providing biogas, biomass, waste-to-energy, clean transport, wind, solar, small hydro, rural electrification and energy efficiency solutions. Image: Leaflet,CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Innovators and entrepreneurs are working to speed up the transition towards clean and renewable energy sources, but many of the innovative clean energy projects have trouble raising the finance to turn their ideas into reality.

This was the case for ATEC, a social enterprise in Cambodia which has developed appropriate technology to address the health and environmental issues associated with cooking with wood and charcoal.

ATEC produces a small-scale biodigester system for rural Cambodian households. The basis of the system is a biodigester container which can be filled with a combination of organic waste – such as leftovers from the kitchen and animal manure – and water. When the waste decomposes it produces methane gas, which can be used for cooking. As well as providing a free and sustainable energy source, the process leaves waste that can also be used as a natural fertilizer for crops. The use of the ATEC biodigester system can save the average Cambodian family around $254 per year.

ATEC is one of the beneficiaries of the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN), an initiative of the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) in cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Expert Group on Technology Transfer. PFAN is hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).

PFAN’s goal is to bridge the gap between investors and entrepreneurs. It identifies promising clean energy projects at an early stage and provides no-cost coaching and investment facilitation – that includes mentoring for the development of a business plan, investment pitches and a growth strategy. When in place, these measures make it easier for investors to understand a project’s potential, increasing the odds that they will make an investment.

ATEC was one of the twelve companies to pitch their product to a group of investors at the 7th Asia Forum for Clean Energy Financing 2017 in Singapore. The event, organised by PFAN, brought together more than 80 investors from across the globe. The company came out as second runner-up and the exposure it received led it to finding the funding necessary to scale up its operations. ATEC is now present in 13 provinces in Cambodia and is looking to expand into neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Indonesia.

So far around 487 clean energy initiatives have been inducted into PFAN project development pipeline. The initiatives are developing appropriate technologies to provide biogas, biomass, waste-to-energy, clean transport, wind, solar, small hydro, rural electrification and energy efficiency solutions. Eighty-seven of them have achieved financial closure with over US$ 1.24bn of investment raised. Combined, these enterprises have the potential to mitigate over 3.3 million tons of CO2e emissions per year and provide over 802 MW of clean energy capacity.

Access to sustainable and clean energy sources is essential to the goals set by the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement on climate change. It also contributes to a higher standing of living, and better health and education, and is crucial for the productive activities that can raise people out of poverty.

One of the main barriers to implementing renewable energy solutions is the lack of funding, especially in developing countries. In a world where one billion people still lack access to electricity and three billion don’t have access to clean cooking, a lot more investment is needed. Initiatives like PFAN work to fill this gap and provide people with access to affordable, clean energy.

This article was republished with permission from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

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