Significant economic growth and rising population are main driving forces for Asia’s rapidly increasing energy demand. Today, Asia is the main region in the world where electricity generating capacity and particularly nuclear power is growing significantly. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 31 countries are operating 437 nuclear plants for electricity generation out of which 114 nuclear plants are in Asia. Considered as one of the world’s most committed promoters of civilian nuclear power, Japan generates 44,215 MW (Megawatt) electrical power from 50 nuclear reactors. However, the Fukushima nuclear disaster has developed anti-nuclear movements in Japan. In comparison to conventional electricity, nuclear power is competitive in countries which have strong electric grids and lack of indigenous energy resources, such as South Korea. With 23 nuclear reactors, South Korea produces around 30 per cent of the country’s electricity.
India is actively expanding its nuclear energy program and has established its potential in the nuclear field based on indigenous technology and resources. India has 20 nuclear reactors, and 7 nuclear power plants are under construction. As per IAEA, China possesses 18 operational nuclear power plants and 29 nuclear power plants are under construction. Philippines, Pakistan, and Iran had difficult experiences in the establishment of nuclear power programs, however, they have not abandoned their commitment to nuclear power deployment. Several other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Vietnam and Bangladesh have announced their intentions to consider nuclear power deployment in their long-term energy plans. Asian countries are trying to attract private and foreign investment in nuclear power plants as nuclear power could play an increasingly significant role in economic development and benefit in areas of environmental protection and energy security.
Coal provides around 30% of the global primary energy needs, generates 41% of the world's electricity and is used in the production of 70% of the world's steel. Coal is the most mined mineral in the world. Today, the international coal trade is shifting, with Asia emerging as primary driver in the international coal market. Coal demand across Asia is rising, according to the International Energy Agency. Population growth, rising electricity consumption and strong emerging economies are key drivers of coal consumption in the region. China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer, as well as a major coal importer and exporter. China’s domestic coal production no longer satisfies its coal demand.
Despite being the world’s largest coal producer, China as the largest coal importer clearly explains its 3319 Mt (million tons) of coal consumption. As a result of a more than 200% increase in Chinese electric generation since 2000, which is primarily fuelled by coal, China's coal demand growth averaged 9% per year from 2000 to 2010 which is more than double the global growth rate of 4%. India is the third largest importer of coal in the world, importing 160Mt. India consumes 658 Mt of coal as nearly 60% of its installed power capacity of 2, 09,276 MW (megawatt) is generated by using coal. Japan is only 16 percent energy self-sufficient and therefore is the second largest importer of coal importing 184 Mt. Japan consumes 186 Mt of coal to produce 27 percent of the total power supply. A lack of domestic reserves also makes South Korea the fourth largest importer of coal importing 125Mt. Any global trends witnessed in the coal industry will undoubtedly be influenced by China and India.
With growth in the world economy, fossil fuels, and especially oil demand, will continue to grow. Global oil production in the year 1990 was mere 66435.71 thousand barrels per day (bpd) which by 2012 increased to 89348.12 (bpd). According to the 2011 World Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency, Asia has accounted for 66% of growth in global oil demand over the past two decades and is likely to account for over 85% of the entire increase in demand over the next twenty years. In terms of output, the Asian region produced 20,932 thousand barrels per day in 1990. The data clearly indicates that in 2012, Asian oil production has increased to 33,154 (bpd). China's largest oil fields are mature and production has increasingly grown. In 1990, China’s total oil supply was 2768.044 (bpd) which has grown to 4416.177 (bpd) in 2012. China has 1.38% of total world oil reserves and the highest in the Asian region. Leading companies are now focusing on developing untapped reserves in the western interior provinces and offshore fields.
India produced 681.81 (bpd) in 1990, by 2012 the production increased to 990.17. Despite the fact that India had 5.5 billion barrels of proved oil reserves at the end of 2012, domestic production has stagnated in recent years, and Indian national oil companies are increasingly purchasing equity stakes in overseas oil fields. Japan is the third-largest net importer of crude oil as it has few domestic energy resources and is only 16 percent energy self-sufficient. Malaysia’s oil reserves are currently ranked as the third largest in Asia and the country is a net exporter of oil and gas with nearly 40% of Malaysia’s total revenues deriving from petroleum resources. Asia is expected to significantly increase its own oil production which is an essential development to exert downward pressure on rising oil prices. However it seems difficult for China, India along with other big energy users in Asia to become major oil exporters as they are still consuming much more crude oil than they produce.