Optimising energy efficiency finance in emerging economies in Southeast Asia

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This thesis investigates the relationship between public and private sector efforts to optimise energy efficiency finance initiatives in an emerging country context, using Thailand as a case study. Demand-side energy efficiency measures could significantly reduce pressures on energy systems in emerging economies in Southeast Asia while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Rapidly increasing energy needs, combined with dependence on fossil fuel imports have put energy systems in the region under pressure. Due to high urbanisation growth rates, and comparatively inefficient industries, demand-side energy efficiency measures could be part of the solution. The lack of external energy efficiency finance for industry and building owners is a major barrier, but reports and country examples contain mixed messages about how to best overcome this challenge. The dominant discourse around energy efficiency finance originates from international organisations who advocate for the public sector to focus all efforts on maximising private sector investments. However, developed country experience and some emerging country examples, suggest that the problem is more complex. Therefore, this thesis focuses on how to optimise energy efficiency finance. Thailand serves as a case study due to the range of energy efficiency initiatives designed and implemented in that country since the early 1990s. Transition studies and Multi-Level Perspective, were chosen as the theoretical framework and heuristic tool for the analysis. Qualitative data in the form of interviews with forty-eight experts from government, the private sector and academia form the core of this research. The research found that in Thailand, after more than 10 years of public sector support for energy efficiency finance initiatives, success in the private sector has been limited. Challenges identified include: (1) a lack of de-risking measures (2) renewable energy projects receiving most funding; (3) lack of guidance from the Central Bank of Thailand and (4) missing cross-coordination with relevant ministries to create additional demand for energy efficiency finance services. Suggestions for next steps are provided. The main finding from this research is that EEF in an emerging country context will never be transitioned 100% to the private sector, but will be reliant on long-term consistent support from the public sector. Policy makers and international organisations must therefore carefully evaluate the existing framework conditions before choosing which energy efficiency finance initiatives to support. The Multi-Level Perspective analytical framework could provide such an analytical tool to further unleash the energy efficiency potential in Southeast Asia.
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