Thematic Track 4: Financing New and Innovative Clean Energy Solutions in Hard-to-Abate Sectors

January 22nd, 2024
The industrial sector accounts for about 37% of energy use and 25% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. In Asia and the Pacific, industrial energy demand is growing rapidly and predominantly relying on fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency indicates that to reach net-zero emissions, the industrial sector will need to invest in a range of solutions including hydrogen, carbon, capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), direct electrification, advanced digital solutions, material efficiency and other innovative technologies and approaches. To achieve net-zero, the industrial sector will need to make significant investments into clean energy systems in a short-time period. The four main areas of discussion in this Thematic Track will include:
  1. Green Hydrogen for Industrial Decarbonization: Green hydrogen and its derivative zero- and low-carbon fuels have the potential to become vital low-carbon energy carriers in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, iron, steel, chemicals and aluminum as well as international shipping. Globally, researchers, policymakers and investors have high expectations. However, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green methanol and other synthetic fuels remain scarce and costly resources. Experts indicate that green hydrogen and its derivatives should be directed to hard to electrify sectors, such as the fertilizer industry and energy intensive industries. Furthermore, with high demand for green hydrogen, electrolyzer manufacturing will need to ramp up significantly. There are also new types of electrolyzers being developed to produce hydrogen. How should governments plan for a green hydrogen market? What are the latest developments in green hydrogen and electrolyzer technologies? How can governments and the private sector use green hydrogen to create green industrial clusters? What are the challenges in transport and storage of green hydrogen? What innovative business models and financing approaches are being used to support new projects in the industrial sector?
  2. Carbon Removal Financing and Technologies for the Industrial Sector: Carbon, Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a mature, complex suite of technologies that have yet to achieve commercial viability at scale. Challenges include the lack of enabling environment, the complexity of the technologies and use cases, and environmental-social-governance (ESG) related issues. The result has been that CCUS in practice has not matched the climate abatement contributions that were projected for it a couple of decades back. However, most climate experts contend that the world will not be able to achieve its emission reductions efforts unless CCUS is widely deployed, particularly in energy-intensive industries. If this critical technology is not successfully scaled up, even if all else is achieved, the world will overshoot the carbon budget threshold to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The good news is that other carbon removal solutions are emerging. What are the latest developments in financing of carbon removal technologies? What is the role of governments and private sector to stimulate investment in alternative carbon solutions? How critical will carbon pricing be?
  3. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Industrial Sector: The decarbonization of heating in energy intensive industries is progressing at a very slow pace. Furthermore, about 70% of short-term industrial energy efficiency savings are in light industry, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The rapidly growing industrial sector in the Asia and Pacific region is highly dependent on fossil fuels, and this is driving considerable increases in GHG emissions. Only a limited number of renewable energy solutions are being considered at scale for deployment in hard-to-abate industries, and these include geothermal, heat pumps, solar thermal and biogas. There is a unique opportunity to help developing countries set strong regulatory frameworks and leapfrog to clean and efficient energy solutions. What is needed to unlock greater investments in energy efficiency in the industrial sector? What are the key regulations and incentives needed to unlock greater investment? What is the role of local financial institutions, and how are they supporting energy efficiency in industrial SMEs? What are the latest developments, case studies and business models for renewable energy solutions in the industrial sector? How can governments engage with the private sector to finance renewable energy heating projects in the industrial sector? What approaches is industry considering to decarbonize heating?
  4. Advanced Digital Solutions for Industrial Decarbonization: The industrial sector has a been a major investor in the use of new technologies including advanced digital technologies, machine learning, automation, and, more recently, generative artificial intelligence (AI). The use of digital technologies has led to improved productivity and lower operating costs. Yet, their application also has an immense potential to supercharge energy savings and decarbonization efforts across the sector. A recent study by McKinsey found that innovative digital technologies and generative AI can not only significantly accelerate the implementation of nearly half of key initiatives essential to reach net zero by 2050, but can also substantially contribute to reducing their cost with the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars in savings per year. However, as with any new technology, there is need for research and development, testing and piloting, and ultimately, regulation. How can AI benefit the sector and what are the upcoming opportunities for private sector investment? Where is it being applied today and what are the challenges and risks? How are cyber security risks being addressed? How can governments support demonstration and deployment of new and innovative solutions? What financial assistance is required? What are some other upcoming advanced digital technologies in the energy sector, and how are projects that apply these technologies being financed?