Qingchan Yu – “A Credible Alternative to Fossil Fuels Is Critical”

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Nov 03, 2017
by Qingchan Yu
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Qingchan Yu – “A Credible Alternative to Fossil Fuels Is Critical”

To strengthen the cooperation on renewable energy development in Asia, take the Great Mekong Sub-region as an example, suggests energy and climate expert Yu says financial cooperation is a policy priority to help poor member countries to embark upon renewable energy development

Yu will be a participant at the upcoming session in the series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation. All participants were invited to share their own vision for “the Asia we want.”

The Great Mekong Sub-region (GMS) – Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, has a big population of 235 million in total – two-thirds of the US population. So far the region has an average energy consumption per capita of 1,268 kWh/person/year, which is half of the world’s average level. Rural electrification rates are still quite low, at 24 percent and 20 percent in Cambodia and Myanmar respectively. However, rapid economic growth in the GMS has meant rapid growth in the demand for energy.

As one the fastest growing regions in the world, the electricity consumption and electricity peak demand have experienced very high growth rates – a trend that the governments of the GMS countries expect to be sustained for at least the next five to 10 years. A credible alternative to fossil fuels is critical. The GMS countries are still at an early stage in developing their renewable energy (RE) resources.

To make the GMS countries less dependent on imported fossil energy, notably oil and gas, and to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Thai government plans to increase the use of alternative energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, and mini-hydropower) from 12 percent currently to 25 percent by 2021.

The government of Cambodia sets a long-term target of producing biodiesel and bio-ethanol to displace 10 percent of diesel consumption and 20 percent of gas consumption by 2030. By 2025, the share of RE sources in total energy consumption is projected to increase to 30 percent by the government of Lao PDR, with mini-hydro projects and biofuels expected to be the main sources of RE.

Myanmar’s government plans to use domestically produced biodiesel and bio-ethanol as substitutes for 10 percent of imported oil and gasoline by 2020. Renewable energy sources are still at a preliminary stage of development in Vietnam. The government plans to increase the share of renewable power generation, from 3.5 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent by 2020, and possibly to 6 percent by 2030.

For the purpose of bridging the developmental gap and accelerating the role of RE in GMS countries, a mechanism should be set up for the technical transfer, cooperation, and the best practices for sharing to promote RE deployment in the region. Capacity building should be at the center of cooperation in the region.

Given the fact that financing is the most crucial challenge, financial cooperation is a policy priority to help poor member countries to embark upon RE development. Therefore, field research, pilot projects, and policy improvement should be conducted with intimate collaboration between international partners and multi-level stakeholders in Asian countries and the world.

Qingchan Yu is the program manager of the Energy and Climate program at GEI. Since joining in 2009, she has led the team’s work on sustainable development, US-China bilateral climate cooperation, and international climate agreements across the state and private sectors.


Session 591 - The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia- is the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation. For more information on the Session, please click here. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session on social media, follow #SGSasia.

 

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