Among 10 ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, five countries dominate the region’s total electricity generation (covering 89% generation). These major countries consist of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The contribution of these major countries will be essential to achieving the electricity transition towards clean energy in the region. Ember has released a report titled “Unleashing solar and wind in ASEAN” which analyses the latest electricity data in these five major ASEAN countries. Furthermore, it aims to link the progress of clean energy development and the future renewable energy target to the IEA Net Zero pathway. REGlobal provides a brief extract of the report…
Solar and wind generated only 4% of the ASEAN 5’s electricity last year, lagging behind peers like China (11%) and India (8%). Among the ASEAN 5, only Viet Nam (11%) exceeds the world average in solar and wind, which generated 10% of global electricity for the first time in 2021. The rest is still below 5%.
The share of solar and wind in Malaysia and Indonesia is less than 1%. Solar and wind only accounted for 0.2% of total electricity generation in Indonesia, showing little progress from 2015. In Malaysia, the share of solar is only 0.9% of the total generation, while wind is still unavailable (0%).
From 2015 to 2021, there is slow progress in Thailand and the Philippines. The share of solar and wind rose from 1.6% to 4.6% and 1.1% to 2.6%. The progress of clean energy in Thailand and the Philippines relies on bioenergy and geothermal.
Viet Nam had the most significant progress over the past couple of years. Solar and wind share has risen from close to 0% in 2015 to 11% in 2021. Most of this was from a solar boom in the country: solar generation increased by 337% from 2020 to 2021. Viet Nam’s generous Feed-in Tariff (FiT), income tax and land-lease payment exemption for utility-scale investors are the supportive policies accelerating solar deployment.
What are current plans for solar and wind development to 2030?
For the world to limit the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees, the world must phase out unabated coal power by 2040. Solar and wind are the most economic and fastest way to replace coal. The IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 roadmap suggests that solar and wind should be the backbone of the clean electricity transition, providing at least 40% of global electricity demand by 2030.
Having an ambitious policy target for solar and wind development and integrating it into national development plans are important steps toward a clean electricity transition. Cross-country comparison of solar and wind deployment plans provides a unique perspective that helps better understand individual countries’ climate ambitions.
Viet Nam’s solar and wind to rise from 11% in 2021 to 18% in 2030
In the 7th National Power Development Master Plan (2011-2020), Viet Nam planned to reach 6 GW of wind and 12 GW of solar capacity by 2030. Viet Nam met the goal for solar nine years earlier, as solar capacity quadrupled in 2021 compared to the previous year. Having shown the world that rapidly scaling up solar is possible, Viet Nam is now ratcheting up its clean electricity ambition in its draft of the 8th National Power Development Plan (2021-2030), which will be made official in 2022.
Since the initial draft was released, numerous updates have been made to reflect Viet Nam’s pledge at COP26 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. In the most recent update in May 2022, solar and wind power account for 50.7% of total electricity generation in 2045. While details of the draft are not officially announced, Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition (VIET), a local independent think tank, reports that 18.5 GW of wind power will be installed by 2030, and there will be no additional solar capacity by 2030.
Based on the available information, it is estimated that about 18% of electricity will be generated from solar and wind by 2030. This is seven percentage points higher than the current share (11%), and the highest among the countries profiled in this report. However, the increase in wind would only meet 23% of the increase in total electricity demand.
The Philippines’ solar and wind to rise from 2.6% in 2021 to 16.5% in 2030
The Philippines plans to install additional 0.76 GW of wind and 18.5 GW of solar power capacity by 2030, as established in the Philippines Energy Plan (2020-2040). If the plans are fully deployed, then solar and wind will account for 16.5% of the total projected generation in 2030. This is a significant jump from a mere 2.6% in 2021. This increase would meet 38% of the Philippines’ demand increase in the upcoming decade.
The future share of solar and wind generation was calculated based on an estimation of expected electricity generation from total capacity in 2030, assuming all the planned capacities are deployed. Projections for total generation and demand in 2030 were taken from the Philippines Energy Plan (190 TWh).
Thailand’s solar and wind to rise from 4.6% in 2021 to 9.6% in 2030
In the 2018 Renewable and Alternative Energy Development Plan, Thailand lays out plans to install 1.49 GW of wind and 12 GW of solar capacity by 2037. If the plan is being deployed along a linear trajectory, then solar and wind would reach 9.6% of total power generation in 2030, doubling the share in 2021. At this pace of development, solar and wind power would only meet 10% of Thailand’s growing electricity demand in 2030.
Electricity generated from solar and wind in 2037 was estimated based on the expected total capacity in 2037, which was calculated by adding the planned capacity additions to actual capacity in 2017. Total electricity generation and demand was estimated by projecting historical compound annual growth rate from 2015 to 2021 to the year 2037. The 2030 share was calculated using a straight line method.
Malaysia’s solar and wind to rise from less than 1% in 2021 to 3.4% in 2030
In Peninsular Malaysia, 1.1 GW of solar is planned for deployment by 2025 (Report on Peninsular Malaysia Generation Development Plan (2021-2039). There is no wind development under this plan. If the planned pace of growth continues linearly until 2030, then solar and wind would account for 3.4% of total generation that year, a two percentage-point jump from 2021. However, this is only one third of where the world stands now. As Malaysia’s economy grows, solar and wind will only meet 15% of the increase in electricity demand.
Electricity generated from solar and wind was estimated based on the expected total capacity in 2025. This was calculated by adding the planned capacity additions to actual capacity in 2020. Total electricity generation and demand was estimated by projecting the historical compound annual growth rate from 2015 to 2021 to the year 2037. The 2030 share was projected using a straight-line method. Note that this analysis does not include Sabah or Sarawak, as they had no official plans for future solar development.
Indonesia’s solar and wind to rise from close to 0.2% in 2021 to 2% in 2030
Indonesia plans to add 4.68 GW of solar and 0.6 GW of wind capacity by 2030, as made official in PLN’s Electricity Business Plan (RUPTL) 2021-2030. Under the plan, 2% of total electricity generation in 2030 would be supplied with solar and wind, the lowest share among the countries covered in this report. On the other hand, Indonesia’s power demand growth projection is one of the highest, growing annually at 4.9%.
At this pace, only 5% of the increase in demand will be met with solar and wind. The 2030 share of solar and wind generation was estimated by calculating electricity generation from the expected total capacity in 2030, assuming all the planned capacities are deployed. Total electricity generation and demand were given in the RUPTL.
ASEAN 5’s plans for solar and wind deployment are not aligned with the 1.5 degree pathway
Collectively, these solar and wind deployment plans would bring the share of solar and wind in the region up to 11% of total generation by 2030, more than double the share in 2021. However, this increase is not enough to meet the rapidly rising demand for power, let alone to put the region on the IEA’s 1.5 degree pathway.
More ambitious solar and wind deployment plans are needed
Solar and wind will be the backbone of the world’s future electricity system, but electricity plans in ASEAN countries do not currently reflect this.
ASEAN countries have targets in place for accelerating clean energy deployment, individually (national energy plans) and regionally (through the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation). However, this report shows that in the ASEAN 5, clean energy planned under these targets could not keep up with rising demand. Despite clean energy generation constantly increasing in recent years, its share remains low. This trend is what has led to the current domination of coal share in the electricity mix.
While the world is shifting to solar and wind following cost declines, solar power is still at the margin of the region’s generation mix, and wind power is almost invisible. Only Viet Nam surpassed the world average with 11% solar and wind generation in 2021. Other countries in the region have solar and wind shares below 5%, lagging behind their peers.
The vast potential of clean energy in the ASEAN 5 is unfortunately not reflected in its latest 2030 plans. Analysis shows that by 2030, the current energy plans would bring the share of solar and wind in this region up to 11% of total generation. To be aligned with the IEA Net Zero pathway, solar and wind uptake should be accelerated rapidly. The current solar and wind deployment target would only be less than half of the IEA target. More ambitious solar and wind deployment plans are needed.
The way forward
Momentum is building for a clean electricity transition in ASEAN. This has started to create an environment that encourages more sustainable growth and opportunities in some ASEAN countries, which then may translate into more ambitious commitments to decarbonise the power sector across the region.
ASEAN’s power systems, however, are structured around large-scale centralised and dispatchable power plants. They are becoming increasingly incompatible with the changing generation mix, with rising outputs from variable solar and wind power. This incompatibility, if left unattended, is likely to affect the security and reliability of electricity supply, which could make the region’s transition towards a clean electricity future more difficult. Rather than a quick technological fix, the resolution of this issue requires a holistic policy approach to reorganising all aspects of the power system: from technology to market, regulation and consumer behaviours.
The full report can be read here