The latest Global Energy Monitor (GEM) report brings good news: Utility-scale solar and wind capacity in the ASEAN has increased by 20% since last year, reaching more than 28 GW. In the report, titled "Race To The Top SE Asia 2024," Southeast Asia emerges as a leader in the global clean energy effort.
The region's rapid growth in solar and wind power is driving its ambitious renewable energy goals. This increase in capacity also means that ASEAN is on track to meet its renewable energy targets ahead of schedule.
The report outlines several key elements contributing to the explosive growth of renewable energy in Southeast Asia. First, ASEAN countries have set ambitious targets to increase their use of renewable energy, with many aiming to generate 50% or more of their total energy from renewable sources by 2030. Second, a significant decline in the cost of solar and wind energy has made them more competitive with fossil fuels. Third, awareness of the urgency to address climate change and air pollution is growing and becoming a major concern across the region.
Vietnam leads the region in utility-scale solar and wind capacity with 19 GW, followed by Thailand and the Philippines with 3 GW each. The potential for utility-scale solar and wind in the Philippines and Vietnam reaches 99 GW and 86 GW, respectively, accounting for 80% of the region's total capacity. This is the eighth and ninth largest proposed project potential in the world in terms of capacity.
The ASEAN region also has nearly five times more offshore wind potential (124 GW) than onshore wind, almost doubling the world's current operational offshore capacity (69 GW). This indicates a remarkable strength in renewable energy development in the Southeast Asian region.
Despite several promising projects, only a small portion of this capacity is currently under construction, about 6 GW or 3% of the total, a quarter of the global average.
The report also highlights challenges that need to be addressed if Southeast Asia is to maximize its renewable energy potential. One major obstacle is the difficulty of attracting investment. Although the cost of renewable energy is lower, it still requires significant initial capital investment. This is a clear hurdle for developing countries. Another challenge is grid integration, where grid management becomes increasingly complex with the growing contribution of intermittent renewable energy sources.
Meanwhile, with a target of 35% installed renewable energy capacity by 2025, ASEAN countries only need to add 10.7 GW of utility-scale projects beyond those currently under construction to meet this target. With 23 GW expected to be operational by 2025, the region is likely to surpass this milestone. Energy demand in the region has grown by an average of three percent annually over the past 20 years, a trend that is expected to continue through the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency.