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Speeding up Asia’s energy transition

25 April 2023, 14:26 UTC 3 min read

Home to over half the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific region has become an economic force  where energy demand is set to increase by as much as 80% in places by 2040. One of the biggest challenges facing the region is that Asia already accounts for 80% of global coal use. Asia’s growing population, and its heavy reliance on fossil fuels, mean that we are entering a critical period for renewables investment in Asia. In 2023, Indonesia was offered $20 billion USD to cut down on coal via the world’s second Just Energy Transition Partnership. Ending this fossil fuel dependence and joining the global renewable movement will enable Asia to emerge as a green economic powerhouse.

Opposing forces in Asia

A switch to renewable electricity would bring energy security and it would secure the wellbeing of Asia’s population. In this context, we’re proud to host a one-day summit in Singapore on 8 June, where our Green Energy Forum will address some of the biggest energy challenges facing the region. We’ll discuss how the energy transition can unlock the future of green heavy manufacturing, how energy efficiency improvements can slash emissions and save billions, and how being a renewable electricity superpower goes hand in hand with being an economic superpower.

There are so many positive steps already being taken in Asia which businesses and governments can build upon to achieve climate success. However, RE100’s recent report on renewables ambition in G20 countries also perfectly encapsulates the mixed picture on the continent.

China ranks number one in the world in terms of installed renewable power capacity, with enough renewable electricity to power all of Europe. It’s expected to continue this trend and be the single biggest driver of renewables in the world. Yet China’s power grid is still overwhelmingly dependent on fossil fuels, with over half of its power generated from coal in 2022. Japan has enshrined net zero by 2050 into law, yet corporates cannot procure enough renewables to satisfy their demands today due to Japan’s continued coal and gas dependency.

In Indonesia, 80% of electricity comes from fossil fuels and 44.5% of all new power capacity in 2021 came from fossil fuels. That said, Indonesia is starting to realise its renewables potential with geothermal power now supplying a small proportion of the country’s total generation. In India, renewable electricity capacity has more than tripled in the space of a decade, but capital cost and grid connection challenges remain.

Businesses on board

Luckily, there’s a large and growing corporate renewable electricity demand in Asia – it’s estimated that over a trillion US dollars of investment will flow into renewable energy in Asia Pacific by 2030. According to RE100’s most recent annual report, Asia now accounts for 17% of the initiative’s renewables procurement, double that of the previous decade.

These are hopeful signs. To accelerate the trend, at COP27 and the B20 in November last year, we founded the Asia Clean Energy Coalition (ACEC) with the Global Wind Energy Council and the World Resources Institute. The coalition unites world-leading renewable energy buyers, in collaboration with sellers and financiers, to shift policies in key Asian markets. ACEC members will be at our upcoming Singapore summit, amplifying global and regional voices to accelerate the transition to renewables across Asia.

We are entering a critical period for energy in Asia. At Climate Group’s Asia Action Summit on 8 June, there’s so much to discuss, and its vital that key decision-makers and business leaders are brought together to explore challenges and share learnings from their respective countries.

We look forward to seeing you in Singapore or online, charting a way forward for the energy transition in Asia.

Register for virtual attendance here.