Being an ASEAN citizen, I notice that some of its countries (including my own) are still quite lagging behind in terms of renewable energy. I’m not hating, it’s just an opinion based on my own observations. However, I’m glad that it will change, probably soon.
According to a report published by global auditing firm KPMG titled ‘The Renewable Energy Transition’ noted that while there are still 70 million ASEAN citizens without access to reliable electricity. Therefore, the potential for renewable energy is huge in those markets and governments are increasingly turning to solar and wind energy to address the issue.
There are four trends which are expected to drive Southeast Asia’s transition to renewable energy in the coming years. Two of them are technological innovations and favourable government policies. The other two are consumers driving the green agenda forward and the entry of new funds into the ASEAN renewable energy market
Each of ASEAN’s 10 members have set targets for renewable energy, and technological innovations such as better solar power efficiency and floating solar panels means that renewable energy is now more accessible than ever before.
There’s an establishment called RE100 in 2014, which is a collaborative, global initiative uniting more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable energy. This shows that consumers (meaning us, regular people) can help boost the demand for renewable energy, especially since commerce and industry use up two thirds of the world’s electricity.
Companies within the group include Google, Microsoft, Coca Cola and IKEA, big names that have a strong presence in ASEAN. Additionally, The World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation are leading the way in renewable energy investment in the region, and they’ve helped to bring prices down. This way, prices, which have been a key concern, have been lowered. The rising demand.and low cost can now help push the industry forward.
“The price of renewable energy has dropped sharply over the past five years and is expected to reach the price of electrical energy within the next five years. Once that happens, there will be more investors,” said Sharad Somani, Executive Director and Asia Pacific Head of Power & Utilities at KPMG.
Affordable energy + favorable policy
A report released by The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) in August 2018 suggested that the Philippines, a country where an estimated 20 million people lack constant electricity supply and 12 million have none at all, can reduce its electricity costs to just 2.50 Philippine pesos (US$0.05) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by installing rooftop solar. To compare, diesel costs 15 Philippine pesos (US$0.28) per kWh and coal costs 3.8 Philippine pesos (US$0.07) per kWh.
The report, titled ‘Philippines can lower electricity costs, improve energy security by developing rooftop solar potential’, also pointed out that rapidly-declining costs, technological advances in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and distributed storage is helping push the sector forward.
In 2019, the Philippine Board of Investments approved eight solar projects worth US$1.6 billion. Moreover, continued government support is helping to replace coal and diesel models with indigenous alternatives.
“Solar, wind, run-of-river hydro, geothermal, biogas, and storage are competitive, viable domestic options that can be combined to create a cheaper, more diverse and secure energy system,” said Sara Jane Ahmed, an IEEFA energy finance analyst and the author of the report.
Thanks to a system that consists of two or more renewable energy sources used together to provide increased efficiency and better energy supply balance, hybrid renewable energy systems are becoming commonplace in rural and remote areas
Growth = more demand of energy
Now, it’s always good when a country is experiencing a strong economic growth, and that’s what’s happening in ASEAN countries (exceeding 4% annually). This is followed by energy consumption that has doubled since 1995.
It doesn’t stop here. According to a report titled ‘Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Southeast Asia’ by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the demand of energy is expected to continue growing at 4.7% per year through 2034.
With that in mind, ASEAN has set a target of 23% renewables in the region’s energy mix by 2025, which is a 250% increase from 2014. But, in order to achieve that, Southeast Asian countries will need to scale-up their deployment of renewables in the power sector, as well as in heating, cooling and transport. Big time.
Jonathan Goh, Director for External Relations at the Energy Market Authority of Singapore, stated that ASEAN also has to focus on energy storage as one of the solutions to overcome the energy intermittency affecting renewable energy such as solar.
Now, there’s no denying that Singapore is a part of ASEAN with the most knowledge of renewable energy. So, it can offer technical experience, help established financial institutions and interested investors which can help other ASEAN countries including itself.
With its huge potential in renewable energy, ASEAN can be the new hub for renewable energy deployment, innovation and investments. Energy Ministers of ASEAN have discussed how to better utilize the countries’ energy as well as make ways to greater promote renewable and clean energy production.
At the opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting, Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed the need for all countries in the region to greater investment in clean and renewable energy.
He stated that energy demand has been skyrocketing in parallel with the economic development of the countries, reiterating that all ASEAN countries must work to increase the utilization of clean and renewable energy.
The agenda of the meetings include topics in regard to enhancing electricity networks connectivity, infrastructural development for natural gas transport, the promotion of clean coal technology, nuclear power, and alternative energy.
Before this meeting, ASEAN countries have expressed their ambition to increase the region’s clean and renewable energy production from 17% to at least 23% by 2025. Not so surprising considering that so far some countries rely heavily on fossil fuels, led by oil and natural gas as their energy supply.
Here’s to hoping that ASEAN countries are going to utilize renewable energy soon!