Asia is home to the top 5 polluters of the world, namely China, India, and Japan. The growing population will increase Asia’s carbon emissions and also their demands for energy (How climate change, 2019).
To curb climate-change causing emissions while providing solutions to Asia’s growing energy demands, the answer is quite obvious. They need to use renewable energy.
There have been efforts to transition into renewable energy to curb its carbon, although not a pace it needs to be. India is slowly tapping into its renewable resources for sheer demand of its massive population, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) article.
It’s a fact that Asia has the abundance of renewable resources to tap into such as solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal energy. The question is, will it do so and to what extent.
The renewable sector in Asia is growing steadily as its economy grow at 4% per annum. Its renewable energy capacity has doubled in the last 5 years slowly phasing out the older fuel resource. Renewable energy installations have also grown in the regions (The Future of the Renewable Energy, 2019).
Is Asia’s Super Grid a good proposal?
The Eco-Business (2019) says, “If Asia could build an interconnected, diversified energy grid, renewable resource-rich locations could be linked to high energy demand centres. The wide geographical spread of countries with differing peak times would allow for greater energy security and help each country accelerate its low carbon transition.”
Currently, the only multilateral grid is linking Laos, Thailand and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. Thailand has “expressed its plan to be the region’s power trading hub reviving the original Asean Power Grid idea,” the article narrates.
A borderless renewable industry is an idea behind Asia Super Grid, a brainchild of Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer of Japanese multinational Softbank. This came about after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 when the country is seeking a new renewable energy source, the article says.
The Super Grid proposes a Northeast Asia interconnection that would allow ‘high-energy’ consumer countries like Japan, South Korea, and China to access renewable resources in Mongolia and Russia.
Christopher Len of the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore has this to say, “Instead of relying on individual local generating sources, a transnational energy network would enable a more stable supply of clean energy which could be transmitted to whenever there is demand” (Eco-Business, 2019).
Benefits of the Super Grid
A borderless, interconnected grid within Asia will:
- Solve renewables intermittency issues as the interconnected grid would link high demand centres to its renewable resources.
- The wide geographical spread of renewable resources and grid will ensure a stable energy source because of differing peak times thus enhancing the regions energy security and also providing access to for regions who lack or have unstable electricity supply.
- Provide a stable supply of clean energy and to “wean off polluting fossil fuels and improve quality of life”. Len says in the article.
- Provide cheaper energy.
- Open new markets for renewable energy among the regions.
Mika Ohbayashi, Director of the Renewable Energy Institute in Japan referring to China and Europe’s long-distance use of high voltage, direct current electric transmission cables says, “If we compare to 10 or 20 years ago, both renewables and the technology needed to connect these countries have become very cheap.”
He further says that “Asian countries have long traded with one another, but cross-border electricity trading will require another level of trust between us. A new era of prosperity and stronger ties, driven by clean energy, will be brought on by clean energy interconnectivity.”
Is renewable energy Asia attainable?
Indeed, using renewable energy sources is the best option to curb Carbon emissions in Asia. How the vision of a super grid and other efforts shall be realised will depend on how the countries would cooperate and move forward to achieving the common goal.
A resurgence and intensification in the use of renewable energy sources in Asia will be a step towards climate change adaptation and mitigation in Asia.