With Asia accounting for 40 per cent global energy use, governments across Asian countries are focusing on energy efficiency policies for sustainable development. The region is undergoing major energy transformation with emphasis on affordable energy gas, hydropower, nuclear power and solar energy.
Asia is at a critical juncture in its energy development as millions of people across the continent are set to gain access to modern electricity systems for the first time in the coming years. But will the countries be supplied with power from traditional central plants, or by low-carbon, distributed power systems.
Asian countries including China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Pakistan and others, are geographically, politically and economically diverse and have distinct energy sector challenges.
With demand for energy growing in each country, governments have prioritized energy policy development to build a more secure and sustainable future.
In 2012, the Chinese government established a new energy policy with an aim for all-round promotion of energy conservation, developing new and renewable energy, promoting clean development of fossil energy, improving universal energy service, accelerating progress of energy technology, deepening institutional reform in the energy sector and strengthening international cooperation in energy.
According to the 2012 official statement of the Chinese government about its energy policy, the major thrust of the country is on exploitable hydropower resources which are equal to 542 million kw.
To attain the goal of increasing non-fossil energy consumption to 15 percent of the total energy consumption by 2020, more than half will be supplied from hydropower development.
The policy also calls for developing nuclear power in a safe and highly efficient way as nuclear power is a high-quality, clean and efficient modern energy source. It had also envisaged actively making use of solar energy by increasing the country’s installed generating capacity of solar energy to exceed 21 million kw by 2015, with a total solar heat collection area of 400 million sq m.
In 2012, nuclear power accounted for 1.8 per cent of China's total power output, far below the world average of 14 percent.
The Indian government says it will come up with a National Energy Policy which would focus on balancing power generation through conventional and non-conventional sources.
The government will also work towards expanding the national solar mission, launched in 2010 with a target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 and reduce the cost of solar power generation in the country through long term policy, large scale deployment goals, aggressive R&D and domestic production of critical raw materials, components and products.
The government says by the time India completes 75 years of independence in 2022, every family should have a pucca (concrete) house with water connection, toilet facilities and 24×7 electricity supply.
The March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station forced Japan to have a re-look at energy policy and power supply system. Consequently, last year Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted a new basic energy policy, which described nuclear power as one of the key “base-load electricity sources.”
According to the 78-page policy paper the Japanese government will “promote reactivation of nuclear reactors” if they clear the new safety tests laid out by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Those tests are based on standards established by the NRA after the Fukushima meltdowns.
The new policy says the government will push for the development of more renewable energies, including wind, geothermal heat and solar power and over the next three years “lower as much as possible” Japan’s dependency on nuclear power.
In April this year, International Energy Agency (IEA) released a review of energy policies in 11 countries including four countries of central Asia-Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, which possess substantial oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea and offer game-changing potential for energy consumers in Europe and Asia.
The IEA said oil and gas resource-rich countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have developed their economies through oil and gas exploration over the past two decades.
“The standard of living is rising across the region but often the energy sector is more rigid and mostly under government control. These countries must reform and decentralise their energy sectors to encourage production efficiencies, increase market and trade competition, and promote sustainable development.”