The World Bank has hired a Nobel Prize-winning professor from California as the first head of its new alternative-energy lending program.
The bank on Thursday announced the appointment of Daniel Kammen as chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In that role, he will lead the bank’s efforts to develop a strategy for lending funds to developing nations.
The new position underscores growing demand by countries receiving World Bank funding for help developing renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs.
That includes everything from small, localized renewable-energy programs in Africa to major smart-grid initiatives in countries like India and China.
While the World Bank currently employs technical experts at the project level, “this is a guy who is going to be sitting down with energy ministers, senior officials in these countries,” World Bank spokesman Roger Morier said.
The core investment by the World Bank for energy initiatives is more than $5 billion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency “have been the fastest growing piece of that,” Kammen said in a telephone interview Thursday. That piece currently constitutes more than a third of World Bank energy lending and is expected to grow further, he said.
His role, he said, is “really designed to try to bring some structure and coherence to the overall lending effort in that area and to be the point person in the larger effort in the bank to bring sustainability to the energy sector.” That will begin with developing a sustainable energy strategy for the bank by early next year, he said.
Kammen was an academic volunteer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, making speeches in Western states advocating the then-senator’s positions on climate change and energy. He was not an official adviser who developed policy for Obama, nor was he a member of Obama’s transition team.
He is a lead author for an upcoming special renewable-energy report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also was a lead author on a 2000 IPCC special report on technology transfer.
The IPCC — Kammen included — shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.
He is currently a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley. Since April, he has worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an energy and climate fellow for the western hemisphere. In that role, he has been a liaison for developing opportunities among U.S. and international governments, companies, universities and others.