Southeast Asia’s future is in renewables—Greenpeace PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:12

Greenpeace on Sunday called on Southeast Asian nations to seize the golden opportunity offered by renewable energy and champion the transition towards 100 percent renewable energy supply.
The environment group made the call at the conclusion of the 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) held at the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila.

The forum coincided with the international launch of a new Greenpeace report, ‘The Silent Energy Revolution: 20 Years in the Making,’ which highlighted how renewable energy (RE) plants, particularly wind and solar, grew faster than any other power plant technologies, including coal and nuclear, since the 1990s.

“Development in Southeast Asia is possible with renewable energy, energy efficiency and generation of energy at or near the site where the energy is actually used, without needing coal or nuclear. Our new report shows that renewable energy is the world’s fastest growing source of power plant installations. And there is a clear consensus, as shown in the ACEF, that RE is the direction that must be taken by countries in the path to sustainable development,” said Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner.

“Technology and financing are also now available, not only for large-scale RE projects (MW or GW) but also for clean energy solutions for the poor (kw). The only thing waiting to be activated is strong political will to be able to drive this change,” she said.

The Greenpeace report also highlighted how renewable energy power plants accounted for more than a quarter (26 percent) of all new power plants added to the worldwide electricity grid over the past decade, compared to nuclear power stations representing just two percent of new installations in the same period.

It shows how, while the global wind industry added some 35,000 megawatts of capacity in a period of one year (2010) alone, it took the global nuclear industry a full ten years to achieve this (2000-2010).

During the same period, new coal installations went into decline in every country except China, where almost 80 percent of the world’s new coal plants went into operation in the last decade.
However, not only has China phased out around some of its dirtiest coal plants over the last five years, it has also increased its domestic wind market, doubling capacity every year since 2003.
But despite these figures, there still remain some challenging barriers to the full implementation of low-carbon development strategies, which is particularly true for Southeast Asia. Coal and nuclear energy remain on the cards of most Southeast Asian nations.

The 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum focused on new, innovative business models and policy drivers for implementing a low-carbon future for Asia.
“The trend away from coal and nuclear power plants towards renewable power plants will be one step in the right direction. But it’s not time to claim a victory for renewable energy just yet, when new coal power plants, responsible for millions of tons of carbon emissions, continue to be connected to the grid, and while nuclear plans remain. However, the good news is that the renewable energy industry continues to develop rapidly and governments need to ensure this trend continues,” said Obusan.

The Philippines in particular has what it takes to commit to an ambitious but realistic target of 50 percent RE by 2020. It has all the necessary drivers to building a low-carbon future.
An RE Law is already in place, there are enough RE resources and mature technologies, as well as basic policies that push for RE resource development and utilization, e.g. fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. Industry players are ready and are taking the opportunity to utilize RE as a sustainable business; and there are enough funds and interest from financing and investment institutions to invest in RE projects.

“But again, political will be the deciding factor. The question is no longer whether to go renewable or not, but how fast and how big Southeast Asia can deploy these technologies to benefit from the low-carbon development strategy. Governments can make a simple, clear choice. They can commit to a future shackled to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, or they can kick start an energy revolution and leading investment in a renewable energy future that will not only boost global economic development and create green jobs, but will also play a key role in mitigating climate change,” Obusan said.