ASEAN Region Must Rapidly Accelerate Renewable Deployment, Says IRENA

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Energy Ministers from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met earlier this month to discuss the need to rapidly accelerate the deployment of renewable energy capacity across their countries to meet their 2025 renewable energy target — a task which the International Renewable Energy Agency believes is still within reach.

Solar panels in Thailand Image Credit: IRENA

Meeting on September 23, Energy Ministers from across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met at the 34th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM). The meeting served two purposes; first, to discuss the need to accelerate efforts to increase renewable energy capacity across the ASEAN region, and second, to receive a preview from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) of an upcoming report entitled Renewable Energy Outlook for ASEAN — a REmap analysis, which provides detailed technological and sector options to achieve the ASEAN renewable energy target.

In October of 2015, representatives from ASEAN agreed to a 2025 renewable energy target of 23%. Currently, however, the region is only on track to reach 17% renewable energy by 2025.

“ASEAN Member States are endowed with some of the best renewable energy resources in the world,” said Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General. “The analysis from IRENA and ACE shows that reaching the 23 per cent target in the ASEAN region is not only feasible, but cheaper than the alternative. Doing so however will require more emphasis on renewables across all sectors, including heating, cooking and transport.”

“While the share of renewable energy each country can achieve varies, the fact remains that all ASEAN countries can contribute to the 23 per cent goal in their own way,” added Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre. “Around the world renewable energy is becoming a least-cost option for energy, and this is true for the ASEAN region too. Additionally, renewable energy can enable higher rates of electricity access enabling the region to meet its electrification goals.”

ASEAN’s current trajectory will see the renewable energy share reach 17% by 2025, up from around 9% today. The pathway in the REmap analysis could see the target share of 23% achieved in ASEAN’s total primary energy supply. Image Credit: IRENA

The new IRENA report — itself a part of the wider REmap series of reports IRENA has published — not only makes the case for a significant increase in renewable energy capacity, but also outlines the methods by which the member nations can go about closing the gap between current and target renewable energy capacity. Specifically, of significant importance to IRENA, is the growth in energy demand expected across the ten ASEAN Member States — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. According to IRENA, energy growth in the region is expected to grow by 50% by 2025, with emissions increasing by 60%, generating $225 billion per year in additional health and pollution costs.

“In the REmap analysis, we found that savings from reduced externalities are the equivalent to between 0.3 and one per cent of ASEAN’s GDP in 2025,” explained Gielen.

Substantial economic growth is expected in the coming 9 years, but with it energy demand and pollution will also rise. Image Credit: IRENA

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the savings generated as a result of a 23% renewable energy contribution to the region’s energy mix will have significant impact, and will yield savings significantly less than the investment required to reach 23%.

Renewable Energy Outlook for ASEAN — a REmap analysis is set to be published some time in October, and we’ll have full coverage of the release on CleanTechnica. 

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Joshua S Hill

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