How do you power up a reliable and sustainable energy future? It all begins with the foundations you’re building on.
As we move towards the year ahead, we look back and reflect on 5 key energy stories of 2017 that offer an indication of what’s to come.
An intra-connected ASEAN power grid has long been an ambition of the ten member nations that make up this economic-bloc. That reality took an important step closer in 2017 with the first regional tri-partisan energy agreement signed by Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
This transformative deal will see Thailand becoming a transmissions hub for up to 100MW of low-carbon hydroelectric power generated in Laos and transmitted to Malaysia. This is a huge step on the journey towards a more integrated ASEAN energy network and potentially one of the most important energy stories of 2017.
Energy storage technology has seen growing interest in recent years. The rise of renewables and increasingly innovative technologies designed to tackle power challenges in remote communities have been behind much of this focus.
In 2017 that excitement took to Twitter, with Tesla Founder Elon Musk agreeing on a bet to install the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia. That gamble paid off, with a 100MW mega-battery now installed in the state. Not only did this headline-grabbing story make news around the world, it offered a pioneering example of the potential of this technology.
Installed coal-fired power stations are predicted to add over 90 gigawatts to electricity generation capacity in Southeast Asia by 2040. If we’re to continue to utilise this fuel as a source of electricity, then doing so in the most efficient possible manner is vital.
In Malaysia the focus on that ultra-super critical technology was highlighted in 2017 with the launch of the Manjung 5 power station. This state-of-the-art plant delivers 1,000MW of additional power to meet Malaysia’s electricity needs. Other nations in the region are following suit, with the Philippines announcing their plans to begin work on their first ultra-super critical plant in 2017.
Renewable energy was once cited as a long-term energy solution, but 2017 provided a pivotal year in adoption that might reveal another story. The start of 2017 saw predictions that solar could widely beat coal as the lowest-cost electricity generation option within the next decade. More widely, 2017 saw a rapid increase in adoption of renewable technologies in the Asia-Pacific and throughout the world.
In Indonesia, renewable energy accounted for 12.62% of total national electricity supply in 2017, exceeding the 11.96% targeted. In Vietnam, 2017 saw a swerve away from an intended thermo-power plant in Bac Lieu province in order to focus on a renewable alternative. China meanwhile announced a huge US$360 billion investment in renewable energy. And in Malaysia, the nation enjoyed the exciting ground-breaking ceremony for its large scale solar project. These are just some examples of the accelerating uptake of renewables in 2017.
The flexible installation and small geographical footprint makes solar technologies an increasingly accessible opportunity. Alongside the wider rise of large-scale renewables, solar installations are transforming rooftops throughout the Asia-Pacific region into an exciting renewable energy opportunity.
In India the country is working to achieve goals of 100GW of additional solar power by 2022 supported by an increased focus on rooftop solar panels. With a US$625 million from the World Bank announced in 2017, this is a market segment which has seen huge growth. But it’s not just India that’s embracing this opportunity. Malaysia saw the release of net metering guidelines in 2017, providing the framework for solar users to sell their own electricity back into the grid. 2017 also saw similar announcements by other key regional energy players such as Thailand and Vietnam. This was a year when the opportunity of solar really was shouted from the rooftops.