October 4, 2018 Read More →

New thinking on coal, renewables taking hold in Southeast Asia

Eco-Business:

The evidence is getting harder to dispute. Clean energy can provide 100 per cent of society’s electricity needs. Current renewable energy technology is reliable 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and industries’ insistence on using coal and other polluting sources for fear of intermittency—the inability of renewable energy to ensure an uninterrupted supply—no longer has a basis.

So why does Southeast Asia continue to be a global laggard in renewable energy deployment?

Rapid economic growth exceeding 4 per cent annually has seen the region double its energy consumption since 1995, and demand is expected to continue to grow by up to 4.7 per cent per year through to 2035. Coal largely feeds this demand, accounting for up to 40 per cent of consumption. But coal’s impact on climate change and air quality have made the need for a transition to clean energy more pressing than ever.

For decades, Southeast Asian governments have helped the fossil fuels industry with generous subsidies.

But energy subsidies should be cut back or scrapped altogether—except in cases where they serve a specific public purpose, such as giving the poor easier access to energy, or short-term incentives to get new clean energy technologies into the marketplace, says Peter du Pont of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Asia Centre.

Sara Jane Ahmed, energy finance analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), adds: “Governments need to be efficient with their use of capital. Subsidies are not necessary in an industry where there are cheaper competing technologies,” she says, referring to the tumbling price of solar.

More: 7 ways to speed up Southeast Asia’s switch to renewable energy

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