Coronavirus may slow Southeast Asia’s renewable energy transition

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNA:Regional aspirations for a swift transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy are likely to be dashed by the economic and market crises triggered by the global COVID-19 outbreak, experts say.Southeast Asian nations already struggling to meet climate change targets will find those goals further from reach, with the unprecedented health emergency becoming the principal priority and a major economic burden.Nuclear energy exploration – being considered by several nations in recent times, including Indonesia and the Philippines – is now also expected to be shelved indefinitely.“The collapse in oil and gas prices and decline in coal prices together will undermine support for renewable energy in most countries, at least in the short-term, because governments have other matters to worry about,” said Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore.“They (the governments) will have even less ability to provide direct financial support and renewable energy supply chains have been disrupted.”He added: “As a result, the switch from fossil fuels to renewables may be delayed a few years across many countries.”Countries across the region face lower levels of economic growth and recession. In a report published on Mar 31, the World Bank declared that “significant economic pain seems unavoidable” across the region. Projections for the major economies of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are of 5 per cent, 4.6 per cent and 3.5 per cent negative growth respectively in 2020. Singapore’s full-year GDP growth forecast has been downgraded to -6 per cent, from -2.3 per cent, according to Maybank Kim Eng economists. Southeast Asia is a region hungry for electricity and growing hungrier by 6 per cent every year, one of the fastest rates in the world, according to a 2019 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Power demand has grown by 80 per cent since 2000, resulting in the doubling of the use of fossil fuels. It could increase by a further 60 per cent by 2040, based on stated policies of regional governments. In times of fiscal weakness, the imperative in developing economies may shift to provide power as cheaply as possible. Replacing dirty power generation with new cleaner technologies with high upfront costs looks far less attractive now than pre-COVID-19.Already, securing financing for traditional technologies, including so-called “clean coal,” has proven problematic of late. Extra financial pressures could cut further those investment pathways, giving more impetus to a renewable shift. Asia is already the world leader for renewable sector growth – up 7.6 per cent of supply in 2019 and accounting for 54 per cent of new global additions in 2019 – according to an annual report by the International Renewable Energy Agency. While 2020 will be a different prospect, there remains confidence in the long-term trajectory of the sector. [Jack Board]More: Southeast Asia’s renewable energy transition likely to take hit from COVID-19: Experts Coronavirus may slow Southeast Asia’s renewable energy transitionlast_img

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