ASEAN yet to unleash solar and wind

  • Jakarta, Indonesia

  • 7 July 2022

Solar and wind make up 4% of ASEAN electricity, compared to 10% globally. Plans would only raise their share to 11% of the total generation by 2030.

Faster growth in clean electricity is urgently needed in ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), says a new report published today by global energy think tank Ember. To keep up with increasing demand and prevent power sector CO2 emissions rising further, ASEAN members will need to ramp up solar and wind.

The report shows that among the 10 ASEAN member states, five countries— Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam—or the ‘ASEAN 5’, make up 89% of the  region’s total electricity generation, making their contribution crucial to achieving clean energy transition in the region, although contributions from the rest of the ASEAN members are equally important for the region to achieve their climate goals.

However, by 2030, the latest energy plans released by the ASEAN 5 would only see the share of solar and wind rising to 11% of the region’s total electricity supply. By 2030 Viet Nam is expected to generate 18% solar and wind in total, the Philippines 16.5%, and Thailand 9.6%. Malaysia and Indonesia would reach 3.4% and 2% respectively. And this does not align with the IEA net-zero pathway. Recent trends show that if clean energy cannot keep up with the rising demand, fossil fuels will take over.

Solar and wind need to grow rapidly in ASEAN nations, especially considering that they are currently the most economical and fastest way to replace coal.

The report also finds:

  • Growth in clean power isn’t keeping pace with electricity demand, leading to more fossil fuel use. Clean power only met 39% of electricity demand rise in the five largest electricity generators in ASEAN from 2015 to 2021, and 48% was met with fossil fuels. Hence power sector CO2 emissions in these countries increased by 21% in total.
  • Solar and wind generated only 4% of the ASEAN’s electricity last year, lagging behind its peers like China (11%) and India (8%). Only Viet Nam (11%) exceeds the world average in solar and wind, which generated 10% of global electricity for the first time in 2021.

Governments should unleash the power of solar and wind, as is happening already in China, India, and across much of the world. As fossil fuels prices soar through the roof, solar and wind prices remain low, providing affordable, homegrown energy. Solar and wind are progressing across Southeast Asia, but more aggressive targets and timely execution are needed to utilise the vast potential. Governments need to redress 2030 energy plans.

Achmed Shahram Edianto Asia Electricity Analyst, Ember

Solar and wind will be the backbone of the world’s future electricity system, but current electricity plans in ASEAN countries do not reflect this. The IEA’s Net Zero report shows 40% of global electricity supply should come from solar and wind by 2030. More ambitious solar and wind deployment plans in ASEAN are needed to align with 1.5 degrees.

Under current policies, solar and wind are projected to supply only one tenth of total electricity generation in 2030. This is not nearly enough to meet the rapidly growing demand. Rapid scaling-up of solar and wind and grid modernisation is going to be a crucial piece of the puzzle to solve the climate crisis in this region.

Uni Lee Asia Electricity Data Analyst, Ember