November 2, 2018 Read More →

IRENA: Southeast Asia a prime market for renewable energy growth

Reuters:

Southeast Asia is a potential hotspot for renewable energy, yet the region has not met expectations because it lacks policy frameworks that would encourage investment, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) told Reuters.

Renewables across the world have typically been boosted by policies like price subsidies and guaranteed grid takeoff. In Southeast Asia, though, barring some exceptions such as in Thailand, support for renewables has been smaller, and the region lags far behind others in renewable output despite its potential, especially for solar, geothermal and wind power.

Global renewable capacity, excluding hydro, has soared from under 100,000 megawatts (MW) in 2000 to more than 1 million MW in 2017, according to IRENA data. Only a tiny portion of that has come in Southeast Asia.

Now, there are also efforts underway in Southeast Asia: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plans to generate 23 percent of its primary energy needs from renewables by 2025, up from just over 10 percent now. To help achieve that, ASEAN and IRENA signed an agreement this week to boost renewable investment and deployment.

“I think the adoption of the 23 percent target is a very good step, but that needs to be translated now into policy actions,” said [IRENA’s director general Adnan] Amin. “Over the next decade, a total of $290 billion will have to be invested for Southeast Asia to reach its targets, a ten-fold increase on the annual investments we’re seeing today,” Amin said, speaking to Reuters while attending Singapore’s International Energy Week (SIEW).

Amin said renewable investment, including in Southeast Asia, would receive a boost from “dramatic reductions in the cost of renewables.” Solar panel prices have crashed to under 50 cents per watt of electricity, from around $70 per watt in 1980 as technology and manufacturing efficiency have improved. At the same time, Amin said capital markets were starting to price carbon risks, raising the cost of fossil fuels. “Financial institutions have started to bail out from financing coal, so, cost of investments in coal will rise while cost of investments in renewables are decreasing,” Amin said.

More: Southeast Asia’s renewables held back by policy inaction: IRENA

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