During his first moments in the Oval Office on Wednesday, President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord and directed federal agencies to begin unraveling Donald Trump’s environmental policies — the first step in what Biden has vowed will be a sustained effort to safeguard the nation’s air and water, protect endangered species and combat climate change at home and abroad. Biden’s executive order recommitting the United States to the international struggle to slow global warming fulfilled a campaign promise and represented a stark repudiation of the “America First” approach of Trump, who officially withdrew the nation from the Paris agreement Nov. 4 after years of disparaging it. Biden also ordered federal agencies to review scores of climate and environmental policies enacted during the Trump years and, if possible, to quickly reverse them.
Global annual investment in low carbon technologies surpassed $US500 billion ($A650 billion) for the first time in 2020, overcoming a year complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to analysts BloombergNEF. In its latest annual clean energy investment report, BloombergNEF estimates that $US501.3 billion was invested in technologies dedicated to decarbonisation last year, beating 2019 by 9 per cent, as electric vehicles and wind and solar power each attached record levels of investment. Of this amount, BloombergNEF said more than $US300 million was invested in new renewable energy capacity, 2 percent more than the previous year, while investment in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure grew by a massive 28 per cent, setting a new annual record with $US139 billion of investment.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have partnered to increase private investments in advanced energy technology to ensure energy security in the country. The DOE and USAID kicked off Wednesday the three-day Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) activity co-design workshop, which aims to promote private investments in the energy sector. “The US remains a solid ally and one of the country’s major trading partners. We are hopeful that our collaboration to promote energy security and development will be sustained and even enhanced,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said. The virtual workshop between DOE and USAID will set the targets and strategies for the ESP, update tasks and interventions of the government to lure energy investments from the private sector, identify potential partnerships under ESP, and improve the implementation of the program.
Governments across Southeast Asia accelerate renewable energy investment to revive the pandemic-hit economies
In the pre Covid-19 world, energy transition was already at the forefront of the minds of policymakers and investors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Renewable energy infrastructure investment in the region had been strong, reflecting government efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as well as due to the lower costs involved, given cheaper technology and economies of scale. Although construction activity in the sector weakened significantly in 2020 due to fiscal constraints as governments diverted budgets towards social expenditure, investment in the renewable sector is expected to pick up quickly. To improve the renewable energy capacity and revive the pandemic-hit economies, ASEAN governments have laid out an aspirational five-year sustainability plan under the second phase of ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2021-2025.
Unlike some reforms in Thailand that face hurdles because of political power plays among authorities, changes in the energy industry have no excuse for delay. With the rapid growth of renewable energy, the phasing out of fossil fuel-based electricity generation is unavoidable. The role of state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) as the sole electricity vendor is also poised to change. Renewable energy is almost competitive with fossil fuel-based power generation, while energy storage system (ESS) technology, which helps store electricity produced by such power sources as the sun, is also making steady progress. One factor lowering the price of ESS is fast-growing demand for electrical vehicles (EVs) in many developed countries. Some nations announced zero carbon emission campaigns in the transport sector and intend to reach the goal between 2020 and 2060, a move that will cause a shift from petrol-powered cars to EVs.
Renewable energy resources will account for the majority of new U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In a “Today in Energy” report, the agency said it expects nearly 40 GW of new utility-scale capacity to start commercial operation this year. Of that, solar power will make up the largest share, 39%, followed by wind power at 31%. Natural gas additions will account for 11%, and a new nuclear reactor at Georgia’s Vogtle site is expected to make up about 3%. Notably, battery energy storage is projected to contribute 11% of expected new capacity. The EIA said project developers and plant owners expect utility-scale solar to set a new record by adding 15.4 GW of capacity to the U.S. grid in 2021.
In 2014, the installed capacity of non-hydroelectric renewable energy in Vietnam (such as solar, wind and biomass gasification) stood at 109 megawatts (MW), about one third of one percent of the country’s total installed capacity of 34,079 MW. At the time, Vietnam’s electricity mix was dominated by hydropower (46 percent), coal (29 percent) and natural gas (22 percent). By the end of 2019, wind and solar accounted for 5,700 MW of installed capacity, about 10 percent of the total supply…What is driving this renewable energy boom? The primary mover is Vietnam’s explosive rate of growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, Vietnam’s economy has grown at 6 percent or more every year since 2014, reaching 7 percent in 2018 and 2019. This rapid growth is driving up energy consumption at an extraordinary rate.
Southeast Asia has shown an improvement in the number of women in leadership roles. The Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore are leading in having the most women holding senior management positions, based on a report by Grant Thornton, an assurance, tax and advisory firm, titled, ‘Women in Business’. However, women representation decreases as they go up the management ladder. A survey by the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) titled, ‘The CS Gender 3000 in 2019: The changing face of companies’, reveals that Singapore leads in Southeast Asia with the highest female CEO representation (15 percent), followed by Thailand (nine percent), Indonesia (nine percent) and the Philippines (eight percent). The CSRI report also found that the global average for women on boards in the energy sector is 20.6 percent.