Faced with a yawning energy deficit in years ahead and the need to protect against climate change, Asia is looking for fresh ways to finance its shift toward renewables.
"We flipped it over to make it an investment proposition. Rather than focusing on the obvious and important question of climate change here, [we asked] is this a new economic driver? And it turns out that it is," said Dr. Paul Heithersay, deputy chief executive at the South Australian government's Department of State Development. "It's a very high-tech industry."
Asia needs a huge amount of investment to meet the region's growing energy demand. The International Energy Agency estimates Asia will need around $700 billion in energy investment through 2035. Globally, institutional investors likely can provide at most around 25 percent of renewable project equity investment and around half of the debt over the same period, according to a 2013 report from nonprofit researcher Climate Policy Initiative.
But convincing governments to go with renewable projects, instead of sometimes cheaper conventional fossil fuels, requires bringing economic risk and reward to the forefront, Ronald Kapavik, senior director at IHS Energy said at the conference.
Of the 1,500 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy infrastructure set to be added globally over the next 15 years, around 600GW will likely be in China, he said.