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

Published onOctober 10, 2018

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. Eco-Business asked the experts what Southeast Asian countries should do to accelerate the renewable energy transition, and this is what they say.

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. “There is no place for coal subsidies in today’s energy markets,” he says. “The cost of coal power in Asia does not include the significant negative health and environmental externalities caused by the combustion of this dirty energy source”…

…another energy policy which is in need of replacing is the feed-in-tariff (FiTs), which assure power players a fixed payment for energy production over long periods. While FiTs were responsible for the rapid growth in solar energy adoption in Germany where it was first trialled in the early 2000s, in countries like the Philippines, where energy policies may get scrapped with each change of administration, FiTs are proving discouraging to renewable energy investors. Meanwhile, renewable energy auctions, where governments call competitive tenders to install a certain capacity of renewable energy-based electricity, have become prevalent in Europe, China, India, and Latin America in recent years. Auctions, says Heymi Bahar, an energy analyst from the International Energy Agency (IEA), were the reason why India’s renewable energy investments topped those of fossil fuels last year. Investors were given confidence that they could recover their upfront costs over the long term, he says.

Source: https://www.eco-business.com/news/7-ways-to-speed-up-southeast-asias-switch-to-renewable-energy/