Why the Time Is Now for an Energy Transition in South East Asia
By: Liming Qiao, Asia Director of GWEC
There is no better time than now for our industry to step up the energy transition and to define our role in the future energy system: the cost reduction of wind energy, the improvement of the efficiencies and reliability of wind technologies and the mounting threat of the climate imperatives are making the case for wind energy. Following the events during the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last month, there is now unprecedented policy momentum behind taking more decisive actions to stop dangerous climate change than ever before. Wind energy, together with other clean energy sources, is one of the most important technology choices to fulfil the climate targets and to provide substantial emission reduction in the future energy system.
This urgency is all the more pressing in South East Asia, a region that still relies on fossil fuels in a time where power demand is on the rise as the region’s economy and populations continue to grow.
While most people can agree that we must decarbonise our economies, the challenge for our industry to become the mainstream energy source is also daunting. There is unprecedented pressure on cost reduction for the whole industry as support schemes are changing around the world. While wind energy in many countries is transitioning to zero subsidies schemes or grid parity, heavy subsidies continue to sustain the fossil fuel industry. While wind energy is still struggling with project financing and bankability challenges of PPAs in several emerging countries, the traditional energy sources are securing their funding easily with investors not fully realising the risks of the “stranded assets”, that is their investment decisions are based on the outdated risk factors, where climate risks are not properly taken into account.
The challenges are even greater in South East Asia region, where population growth, economic development rate and electricity demand are forecasted to soar for decades to come. Yet, this is exactly where the transition to a cleaner energy system is needed the most. Clean energy can not only help to deliver the carbon reductions needed to meet the climate mitigation targets, but also to shield these countries from the volatility of the fuel market and provide a more secure energy supply.
This is the paradox of promoting renewables in this emerging region: there are perceived difficulties of managing and balancing variable renewable energy (VRE) that prevent countries to see the benefits that VRE can provide: a more sustainable, cost-effective and secure source of energy for a national energy system. These perceived difficulties can actually be overcome efficiently through modern technologies and a shift in mindset of grid operators. A system change is crucial to provide a full set of flexibility measures that allow countries to embrace the benefits of VRE. For this to happen, the industry must work together with the government and other stakeholders to make it happen.
We are not yet there and the fight is just beginning. Through GWEC’s South East Asia Task Force, we will continue this fight for an energy transition in the region by engaging with government authorities in key countries to directly promote wind energy, with local and national associations in SEA countries, as well as build an industry networking platform with events and conference in the region to bring all stakeholders together and move the transition forward.
About GWEC Southeast Asia Taskforce
Established in June 2019, GWEC’s South East Asia Task Force is the official industry platform driving wind energy growth and the energy transition in the region. With one of the highest potentials globally for wind energy, South East Asia is the next big market for the industry with a growing population and economy needing more clean and reliable power.
GWEC will host our next SEA Task Force meeting in Singapore on the occasion of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) and the Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES) to discuss our strategies on priority markets in SEA.