Renewable   Energy 

Solar Development

in South East Asia

August 26, 2019

South East Asia is growing rapidly. The population was 644 million at Mid-2017 which represents 8.5% of the global total population and it is expected to grow by another 25% by 2050. The regional GDP reached USD 2.5 trillion in 2016, tripling what it was in 2005.The 10 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), which comprises of 10 nations namely Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Indonesia, are also experiencing industrialization, urbanization and digitalization at a fast pace. All of these factors combined will drive the energy demand of the region to an unprecedented level and conventional energy (fossil fuel) will not be able to provide a sustainable solution for the region with respect to both economic and environmental aspects. People now look up to renewable energy as a solution and one solution that many ASEAN leaders are paying much attention to is solar energy.

 

With high solar irradiation throughout most part of region, solar energy is a viable solution to meet the growing energy needs of the people. The most relevant solar technology that being adopted in South East Asia is Photovoltaics (PV) which absorb and convert sunlight directly into electricity. Factors that promote the utilization of PV are decreasing panel cost, ease of technology (construction, monitoring and operation), increasing bankability of PV, governmental support and widespread know-how. There are several forms of PV that are found in the region, which are ground-mount PV, Rooftop PV, Solar Tree and last but not least floating PV.

 

Solar energy like all renewables also have drawbacks, one of which is the intermittency of the energy generation as the energy yield depends highly on the cloud cover, weather, soiling and other factors. Swift adoption of solar energy can also cause problems for the existing grid if grid integration study is not carried out extensively for all additional plants. Nevertheless, if coupled with Battery and Energy Storage System (BESS), these issues may be ameliorated. 

 

To conclude, solar energy will surely play a major role in the challenge to sustainably meet the growing demand for energy in South East Asia, however, implementation of the technology must be carried out carefully and combination with other technologies (such as BESS) will bring out the maximum potential of solar energy.

 

Sources: IRENA (2018), ‘Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Southeast Asia’. IRENA, Abu Dhabi. 

Written by

Kanin Silpa-Archa

Project Manager and Sales

Kanin received his M.Sc. in Energy and Environmental Engineering from the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) in Germany. He has been in solar project management for several years such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, GIZ, KfW and private clients respectively. He subsequently involved with business development for Technical Advisory Department.

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