Tokyo, Japan (BBN)– The Asia Solar Energy Initiative (ASEI) – a major program launched by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in May this year to identify and develop large capacity solar projects – will increase the amount of solar power generated in the Asia and Pacific region six-fold to 3,000 megawatts by mid-2013, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said on Wednesday.

Opening the second meeting of the Asia Solar Energy Forum (ASEF) in Tokyo, Mr. Kuroda urged governments in Asia and the Pacific to invest in solar energy to help ensure their future growth is environmentally sustainable. The forum, a major component of the ASEI, is the premier platform for sharing solar energy knowledge, tracking solar development projects, and discussing new solar power proposals and incentive mechanisms.

Mr. Kuroda noted that Asia and the Pacific’s high economic growth rates, continuing population growth, and current and projected energy demand gap provide a huge market opportunity and potential for solar energy development.

The forum coincides with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) talks in Mexico, where delegates from around the world are looking for ways to reconcile the twin challenges of economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Before the launch of ASEI, the region produced less than 500 megawatts of solar power from installed plants. The capacity is expected to reach 1,000 megawatts by the end of 2011, and to 3,000 megawatts by the end of its third year in May 2013.

Apart from ASEF, the ASEI also includes the Asia Accelerated Solar Energy Development Fund (AASEDF), which will “buy down” the high upfront costs of solar energy development to help encourage private investment in the sector.

BBN/SI/SSR-01Dec10-10:33 am (BST)