ASEAN, solar energy will reach 241GW!

Time: September 20, 2022

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will develop 241GW of solar PV by 2030, a technology that will dominate the new capacity.

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), by the middle of this century, if countries in the ASEAN region adopt 100% renewable energy power supply, their installed capacity can reach 2.4TW. In this scenario, solar PV will account for nearly 60% of installed renewable energy capacity by 2050.

Regardless of the scenarios studied in the report (the share of renewable energy mix in 2050 ranging from 34% to 100%), solar PV will be the "flagship resource for ASEAN decarbonisation".

From 2018 to 2020, due to the rapid expansion of solar photovoltaics, the share of installed renewable energy capacity in ASEAN member countries increased from 28% to 33.5%.

Turning to investment needs, the report said that to support a full transition to renewable energy between 2018-2050, more than $1.2 trillion in solar panel alone will be required. Investments at the end of the decade stood at $156 billion.

Indonesia (24.18GW), Vietnam (17.86GW) and Thailand (11.15GW) will lead other countries in annual solar PV additions and will become countries with annual installed capacity exceeding 10GW by 2050. IRENA estimates that ASEAN countries as a whole will add 64 GW of solar PV capacity annually by 2050.

Earlier this year, Vietnam deemed its solar energy target for the decade "too high", largely due to grid constraints that have disrupted renewable energy development. The target set by the Vietnamese government falls well short of IRENA's outlook for the country over the next few decades.

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said, "As the region commits to more ambitious climate goals, including net zero emissions, we must now start planning in earnest. While ASEAN has ambitious renewable energy in the short term target, but this area needs to be considered and planned for long-term development."

In addition, solar PV hotspots in the region are located in Sumatra, Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia, as well as in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Along with Indonesia's Java-Bali, these three countries are also the most electricity-hungry countries in the ASEAN region.

By 2050, with 100% renewable energy, Indonesia's two islands alone will import more than 1,000TWh of electricity, three times the UK's electricity demand in 2021.

This requires nearly $200 billion in grid investment across the region in the short term, while scaling up national and international transmission to better integrate renewables.

Singapore is one of the countries heavily reliant on renewable energy imports due to a lack of land supply, with the city-state planning to import up to 4GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035.

According to IRENA, several ASEAN countries have large quantities of key mineral resources that can be used in renewable technologies and require manufacturing support policies to enable solar PV module and cell production capacity to reach GW scale.

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