Lessons learned from studying public initiatives to support energy efficiency finance in Thailand from 1992 to 2014

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Journal Article
Energy Efficiency, 2017, 10 (4), pp. 905 - 923
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© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Despite the huge technical and market potential for cost-effective energy efficiency investments in Southeast Asian markets, only a small fraction of this potential has been realised. Given that the major share of global future energy demand, and associated greenhouse gas emissions, will come from emerging economies, it is important to understand the barriers to mainstreaming energy efficiency into the financial sector. This paper focuses on public initiatives that support one of the main barriers: access to capital. The researchers chose Thailand as a case study because of the range of energy efficiency finance programmes that have been designed and implemented since the early 1990s. Interviews with 21 experts from government, the private sector and academia provided the core data for this research. The analysis employed a multi-level perspective and focused on the historical evolution of public support of energy efficiency finance in the country. We identified three distinct phases of public policy development over the past two decades. Despite an impressive variety of ambitious and creative programmes, the initiatives have not yet succeeded in integrating energy efficiency into the financial sector in a meaningful way. Some of the key lessons found are that (a) it is better to treat energy efficiency and renewable energy in separate financing initiatives, (b) governments find it challenging to design effective mechanisms to de-risk financial investments, and (c) international organisations play an important role in testing and facilitating the introduction of new financing approaches and mechanisms. In emerging economies, cost-effective implementation of energy efficiency measures is a promising alternative that can reduce the need for investment in large-scale power generation capacity. The researchers hope that this paper will contribute to more effective design of programmes to incentivise energy efficiency financing in Thailand and in other economies in Southeast Asia.
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