Asia's Renewable Energy

In a bid to overcome energy crisis and climate change, the governments around the world and especially in Asia are focusing on renewable energy resources. Renewable Energy is derived from natural sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and some forms of biomass which are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed. The renewable products are: hydro (large, medium and small), geothermal, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, tide, wave, ocean, wind, solid and liquid biofuels, biogases and renewable municipal waste. The renewable energy sources will provide Asian developing countries an opportunity to embrace a low carbon pathway and electrification of rural areas through off-grid renewable energy solutions. As the graph shows, China is way ahead in the renewable energy field in the region. Out of its total energy consumption of 94,799 petajoule, 11,282 petajoule come from renewable energy. That means 11% of its energy needs are met by renewable energy sources. The data also reveals that even comparatively smaller countries like Sri Lanka, Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia are also increasingly fulfilling their energy requirements by renewable energy. The countries are developing domestic manufacturing of solar, wind and battery technology to generate more clean energy.

Asia’s hunt for alternative energy

Rising dependency on fossil fuels, coupled with environmental impacts, has sparked interest of Asian countries in renewable energy. Asia is rich in renewable energy potential from strong sunlight, wind in the middle latitudes, wave and tidal power to considerable geothermal and hydropower resources. China, in particular, has significant terrestrial wind and solar resources. Japan has geothermal energy and South Korea is developing wave and tidal power. Resource endowments vary greatly from country to country, but it is clear that Asia offers a great potential for renewable energy sources which remain mostly untapped. According to the World Energy Resources 2010 survey, global hydropower capacity amounts to 1.28 terawatt (TW) out of which 357 gigawatt (GW) is installed in Asia, and China is the leading hydropower generating country producing 61.4 million tonne oil equivalent (Mtoe) per year. The global solar installed capacity is 80.3 GW, with Europe being a leading producer followed by Asia producing 11.5 GW. Wind energy is available everywhere, but varies in wind strength and consistency. The global wind installed capacity is 327 GW out of which Asia produces 87.4 GW. The global geothermal installed capacity is 15.5 GW out of which 4.55 GW is installed in Asia. Philippines and Indonesia are the world’s leading producers of electricity from geothermal resources. Biomass has the versatility to produce several types of energy carriers. Because of the vast and variegated agriculture, more recently Asian countries have deepened their interest in the modern use of agricultural residues as feedstock alternatives to fossil fuels. On the hydropower front, Asia accounted for almost 32% of the world’s hydro generation. Overall Asia has a great potential to utilize renewable energy resources towards a more secure energy future.

China: World's biggest maker of solar panels

Around the world, governments and private firms view green technologies especially photovoltaic (PV), as an important opportunity for investment as it promises infinite and affordable energy from the sun. Deutsche Bank recently forecasted that the global PV demand in 2013 will reach around 38GW and increase strongly in 2014 to as high as 45GW. Over the past few years, China has dramatically expanded its manufacturing capacity for crystalline silicon PV modules, out of which 90% are exported to Europe and the United States. The speed with which China launched the PV ventures in the early 2000s has established their reputation in engineering and manufacturing. Today, China’s production capacity for PV cells and modules stands at roughly 36 GW. The Chinese PV industry is focused on the manufacturing of PV wafers, cells, and modules, largely for crystalline silicon production devices. China has demonstrated its strength by introducing high-quality and low-cost manufacturing. As the graph shows, China has made phenomenal success in the production of solar panels. While in 2005 it generated mere 128 MW of photovoltaic power, by 2012 the production crossed the record mark of 21,000 MW. To further strength its renewable energy industry, China has recently announced a 50% tax rebate for solar manufacturers. Such policies indicate China is keen to advance its global dominance in the solar power