On the sunny side: Southeast Asia embarks on solar push

SINGAPORE, Nov 2 — Indonesia and Vietnam are looking to join Thailand in blazing a trail for solar power in Southeast Asia, introducing targets to fire up green energy...

SINGAPORE, Nov 2 — Indonesia and Vietnam are looking to join Thailand in blazing a trail for solar power in Southeast Asia, introducing targets to fire up green energy generation as a landmark global agreement to curb pollution is set to take effect this week.

Annual solar power production in the region will expand to 13 gigawatts (GW) in 2025 from around 1.6 GW in 2014 under a business as usual scenario, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has said.

If countries adopt the right mix of support policies and targets, solar could grow to about 55 GW by 2025, or an addition of roughly 5 GW per year between 2014 and 2025, Irena said.

In comparison, the world’s top solar producer, China, had capacity of 43 GW in 2015, according to Irena data.


Following are some details on solar in the region’s countries:


The nation currently has the highest installed solar capacity in Southeast Asia, with a government official saying it reached about 2 GW in August against a target of 1.7 GW for 2016. It hopes to expand that to 6 GW by 2036.

Thailand has subsidies in place via feed-in tariffs (FIT) to draw investment and is looking at raising targets for renewables, Viraphol Jirapraditkul, director of the Energy Regulatory Commission told Reuters.


The government aims to have 5 GW of solar power plant capacity by 2020, up from around just 70 megawatts (MW) at the moment.

It has introduced feed-in tariffs ranging from 14.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 25 US cents per kWh. The system locks in the sale of electricity from renewable sources at a fixed price over 20 years.


The country expects to raise the share of renewables to 14 per cent by 2020 from negligible levels now, according to Hoang Quoc Vuong, Vice Minister of Industry and Trade. This includes a target to build 5 GW of solar power capacity by 2020, he said.

The renewables target excludes hydropower, which currently meets about 40 per cent of the country’s demand.

Vietnam is looking at introducing tariffs to attract investments in the sector as electricity generated from solar costs about 10 US cents per kWh, higher than the country’s target power generation cost of 8 US cents per kWh, Vuong said.


A 500-MW target has already been reached and no new target has been set by the four-month-old administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.


Solar energy remains the most promising renewable energy source for the city state when it comes to electricity generation. Singapore has installed about 100 MW of solar panels and aims to increase that to 350 MW by 2020, or about 5 per cent of the country’s projected peak electricity demand.


The country has approved projects to generate about 1,200 MW of electricity from renewable sources under its FIT system, of which about 320 MW will be from solar, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Maximus Ongkili.

Current solar capacity stands at 267 MW, with the nation expecting to add 1 GW by 2020, or 250 MW per year, he said. — Reuters

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