Many years from now, people will look back on the 2020s as a pivotal decade in human history. A global transformation is currently taking place in the way that our homes, transport systems, businesses, and industries are powered – a decade of renewable energy transition. Although the development of renewable energy infrastructure is nothing new, the last few years have seen a massive acceleration in the transition away from fossil fuels. Underlying this trend is Goal 7 of The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seeks to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy” for all citizens. Since being founded in 2003, ESC has overseen the development of countless renewable energy projects in Asia and beyond, putting it on the front line of this global effort.
The surge in demand for renewable energy
Renewable energy use is growing exponentially across the globe. According to the IEA, the proportion of the world’s electricity generation coming from renewables jumped by 29% in 2020 alone. New green energy infrastructure can hardly be built quickly enough to keep up with the burgeoning demand, and this is particularly true in Asia. For instance, ESC’s combined solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal projects have seen more than a 10-fold increase in energy capacity in just the last four years! Although these are eye-opening figures, 85% of Asia’s total energy consumption still comes from fossil fuels, so the reality is that the green energy revolution in the region is only just getting started.
Key drivers of transition to renewables
Besides The UN’s 2030 goals, there are several other key factors driving renewable energy transition in Asia. Perhaps most crucial is the strengthened commitment of national governments to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement brought on by the sobering projections of the most recent IPCC report on the impacts of CO2 emissions on the climate. With the alarm bells well and truly ringing, national governments are now setting much bolder targets for achieving net-zero within ever-shortening time frames.
But it’s not only governments which are setting ambitious targets for reaching net-zero in a hurry. RE100 is a collaborative initiative of some of the world’s biggest enterprises – including Google, Microsoft, Nike, General Motors, Starbucks, and Deloitte to name but a few – each committed to reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. The initiative requires that each member sets a specific target date for powering their businesses solely with renewable electricity, with the minimum target being by 2050. Given the collective’s influence on global capital flows, it is little wonder that demand for renewable energy has ramped up so massively in Asia in recent years.
Economic incentives in both the private and public sectors are also fuelling the boom in renewables. Multilateral agencies and financial institutions such as the World Bank, IFC, and Asia Development Bank are providing financial support for the development of renewable energy infrastructure projects in developing countries for the implementation of the UN’s SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, governments are now working in tandem to align their respective national regulations on energy exports, so as to reduce friction in cross border trade in green energy.
Supporting the green revolution in Asia
The increasing demand for renewables spawned a proliferation of green energy infrastructure projects for ESC in Asia. The increased demand for our solutions in recent years reflects some of the major observable trends in the countries we operate including:
- the rise of offshore wind farms in Vietnam, which are poised to become a key pillar of the country’s energy transition
- the deployment of large-scale solar photovoltaic systems (PV) in Singapore
- the development of major solar, wind, and hydropower projects in Malaysia
- the solar energy market in Indonesia is being driven by Singapore’s need for cross-border energy imports and
- an increase in cross-border power imports to meet the existing demand for clean energy
If the growing demand for reliable forms of renewable energy is to be met in Asia in the years to come, then environmental consultants such as ESC will have an important role to play. In helping to clear the roadblocks to green energy development, while mitigating the worst of the environmental impacts associated with it, ESC is helping to pave the way to a more sustainable future in Asia.
For more information on how ESC can facilitate your organisation’s transition to a cleaner and greener future, click here.