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New US Program Invests in Clean Energy for Southeast Asia

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The Department of State, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), recently announced the launch of the Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Program. Through the program, $6 billion dollars will be provided to support clean energy projects in Southeast Asia. The funds will support energy investments in Asia, as well as jobs both in the US and in Asia. The US Embassy in Bangkok will host OPIC and USTDA personnel who will be responsible for managing the program. Beyond direct monetary support, the Clean Energy Program will also provide insurance, technical assistance, project oversight support, and other functions to ensure the best use of the funds.

The Department of State has identified energy diplomacy as one of its key policy strategies going forward. Deficiencies in electricity grids and power supplies affect many nations around the world, and engaging in energy diplomacy initiatives in those regions allows the US to foster both security and economic partnerships. When Secretary of State John Kerry was in Vietnam in December, 2013, he announced that General Electric would be providing $94 million worth of wind turbines there, as well as announcing several other economic and environmental projects in the country.

Embodying the concept of energy diplomacy, the US Asia-Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership is an initiative co-founded by the US, Brunei, and Indonesia and was launched in 2012. Among other things, the partnership prioritizes renewables, cleaner energy, and sustainable development across the broader Asia-Pacific region. Along with the Sustainable Energy for Remote Indonesian Grids initiative, the new Clean Energy Program is one of several projects established under the partnership to support these priorities.