Renewable energy

What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy produced using natural resources that are constantly replaced and never run out. Examples include solar and wind-generated power, hydropower and geothermal energy. There are also fuels such as hydrogen that can be considered to be renewable when they are produced by processes powered by renewable energy.

Why is renewable energy so important?
It’s clear that the global road to net zero by 2050 requires a strong focus on renewable energy sources.  While burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, renewable energy sources can provide power generation with little to no emissions. An International Energy Agency report released in 2021 identified the need for annual worldwide additions of solar and wind power to reach 630 and 390 gigawatts respectively by 2030 – four times the record level set in 2020 – to be on the pathway to achieving net zero. Massive global investment will be required.

What is the approach to renewables across Asia?
Generally speaking, countries across the region are targeting rapid adoption of renewable energy as they look to accelerate decarbonisation. China is a leader in renewable energy not only within Asia but globally: it was responsible for nearly half of the world’s renewable capacity added in 2020. South Korea has been working towards a significant increase in the renewable share of its energy mix for more than half a decade, while the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia have all announced ambitious renewables targets.

Japan and Singapore are being particularly creative with their approach to renewable energy – owing to geographic challenges they face. Both countries have pioneered floating solar farms.

What are some of the challenges with renewables in Asia?

While renewables will be a major driver of energy transition in Asia, it’s not nearly as simple as building a large amount of solar and wind farms to replace coal-fired electricity plants. A country-by-country approach will be required, tailored to the particular requirements and challenges of each jurisdictions.

One of the biggest challenges for renewable energy is intermittency. Solar and wind farms for instance cannot generate power all of the time – when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing – and industrial-scale battery storage technology that would “even out” such fluctuations is still under development. This intermittency is problematic for large electricity grids where many millions of people rely on consistent power supply as a basis of everyday life.

Parts of Asia experience geographic and climate-related challenges around renewable energy. The closer to the equator you are located, the more challenges have to be overcome to employ renewables at the scale required – winds are lighter, which impacts the potential for wind power, and tropical weather often results in cloudiness, which affects solar generation. Some countries, including Japan and Singapore, struggle to find the land space required for big solar and wind projects.

Hydropower is part of the energy mix in several countries in Asia but it is also associated with environmental and social concerns because of the need to dam running water bodies.

A global challenge with renewable fuels currently under development – notably green hydrogen and ammonia – is that they are yet to be produced at industrial scale and at a price that is cost effective.

How can natural gas complement renewables?

There is an opportunity for low-carbon natural gas to replace coal as an electricity-generating fuel and help countries achieve their shorter-term carbon emissions targets while renewable energy solutions continue to develop and come online. This opportunity is enhanced by advancements in the effectiveness and cost efficiency of carbon capture technology. Similarly, while green (or renewable) hydrogen and ammonia promise to be an integral part of the Asian fuel mix in decades to come, carbon-neutral ‘blue’ hydrogen and ammonia produced from natural gas with the carbon capture could help countries meet their climate targets more immediately.

How do ANGEA’s members factor into the Asian renewables equation?

ANGEA’s membership comprises some of the biggest companies across the gas and energy supplay chain, bringing significant experience in the adoption of renewable energy technology and its integration with more traditional energy sources. They are also at the forefront of efforts to develop emissions-free energy sources for the future. ANGEA’s members will work with countries and industries across Asia to ensure access to low-carbon natural gas and facilitate tailored and best-practice approaches to energy transition.

For instance, ANGEA member company JGC has been a long-time investor in solar power in Asia, having built major facilities in Japan, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Similarly JERA has invested in a wide range of renewable energy projects, including wind and solar installations in both Thailand and India, and an off-shore wind facility in Taiwan.

ANGEA is an industry association representing LNG and natural gas producers, energy buyers, suppliers and companies in APAC. Based in Singapore, it works in partnership with governments and societies across the region to deliver reliable and secure energy solutions that achieve national economic, energy security, social and environmental objectives and meet global climate goals.