Not enough data for electricity needs and supply of 684 million people in Asia, report finds

  • London, The United Kingdom

  • 4 May 2023

More than half of 39 economies in Asia have “poor” or “insufficient” power data, which are home to 684 million people. This finding is from a new joint report by global energy think tank, Ember and climate impact multiplier, Subak. The researchers conclude that poor data transparency is holding back the speed of clean power transition in Asia, home to 80% of global coal generation. 

This report is the first-in-kind report that presents a comprehensive regional picture of the availability of power sector data in Asia, including the Asia Pacific and Central Asia.  The research identified 74 official data sources across the region, which is a significant improvement since the first Asia Data Transparency Report 2020, led by Ember.

Key findings

  • Over half of the economies in the region deliver insufficient or poor data transparency.
  • Poor data transparency is holding back Asia’s clean power transition.
  • Some developing economies – India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – performed better than China and Japan.

While India, New Zealand, Australia scored the highest, many countries with high electricity demand needed improvements. China, despite being the largest electricity consumer in Asia and globally, only scored an “acceptable” rating due to lack of detailed data and inconsistent reporting. ASEAN countries generally scored “insufficient” or “poor” for data transparency, while Thailand and the Philippines performed relatively better. 

Notably, three low-middle income countries (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) are making strides in improving data transparency, scoring higher than higher-income countries like China and Japan. The authors argue that they are  demonstrating good practices that can be replicated elsewhere.

The authors conclude that data transparency in Asia needs improvement, which can be done by following open data standards and guidelines that require relatively low technical or financial capabilities.

Three lower-middle income countries - India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh - scored higher than any other upper-middle income countries. They are showing that it is possible to improve data transparency and encourage others to follow suit.

Uni Lee Asia Data Analyst, Ember

Data is essential for climate professionals to monitor, track and set clean power targets, as well as to develop innovative technologies for better grid flexibility and engage in evidence-based policymaking.

Justine White Data Cooperative Associate, Subak

Not enough data to enable Asia’s coal-to-clean transition

Asia accounts for 62% of global power sector emissions. As its electricity demand is rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, decarbonising the power sector in the region is of crucial importance for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. 

Yet, finding high-quality and consistent power sector data to track the growth is challenging, the report finds. The report emphasises the need to make power sector data open and freely accessible across the region, as it plays a pivotal role in decarbonising the power sector. 

Some governments have become aware of the importance of data transparency–it  accelerates decarbonization of the power sector through innovation and builds trust in the government. In recent years, countries such as India have stepped up efforts to spur transparency by launching data governance initiatives and partnering with the private sector.

Further, the authors emphasised that governments and intergovernmental organisations will gain monumental benefits of emissions reduction and power sector innovation by improving data transparency, unleashing the full potentials of Asia’s clean energy transition.

Data transparency enables various stakeholders in the society to participate in building pathways to decarbonise the electricity grid. I hope that revealing the state of data transparency can trigger a regional and national conversation about the need to make power sector data open and free to access for all.

Uni Lee Asia Data Analyst, Ember

Data sources identified in this report can be found on Asia Data Finder on Ember website.