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Wind and solar capacity in Southeast Asia grows by 20% in just one year, report finds


Solar and wind capacity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region increased by 20% in 2023, bringing the total to more than 28 gigawatts (GW). 


The technologies now make up 9% of electricity generating capacity in ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – according to a new report from Global Energy Monitor (GEM).


Combined with a large base of hydropower, the growth in wind and solar takes the bloc close to its renewable energy capacity target of 35% by 2025, GEM says.


Building an additional 17GW of utility-scale solar and wind projects in the next two years – those that feed power directly into the electricity grid – would be sufficient to reach the goal, it adds.


In fact, it says the region is on track to sail past its target, nearly doubling wind and solar capacity in the next two years by adding a further 23GW of new projects


An even larger 220GW pipeline of new utility-scale wind and solar capacity has been announced, or entered pre-construction or construction stages, according to GEM’s analysis, though only 6GW of this is currently being built.


However, ASEAN countries collectively have one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and have seen very rapid recent electricity demand growth of 22% per year between 2015 and 2021. This has translated into continued support for gas and coal power in the region, even though demand growth is expected to slow.


While renewables have the potential to temper the growth in fossil fuel dem

and, wind and solar expansion face regulatory hurdles and a lack of supportive policy, GEM adds. 


Success so far


ASEAN added 3GW of solar capacity in 2023, increasing installed capacity by 17% over 2022 levels, according to GEM’s report. 


Despite solar seeing a larger overall capacity increase, operational wind capacity saw a larger comparative rise, growing by 29%, or 2GW, since January 2023. 


Offshore wind now accounts for 2GW of the operating 9GW of utility-scale wind capacity in the region.


Given the technical challenges and associated higher costs of offshore wind, this is particularly noteworthy, GEM states. 


Vietnam has by far the most utility-scale solar and wind capacity of all the ASEAN nations, as seen in the chart below. 


The increase in utility-scale solar and wind capacity over the past year has come as a result of a supportive policy environment across many countries in the ASEAN region, says GEM. 


In 2017, Vietnam deployed a series of investment policies designed to bring utility scale-solar projects into operation, for example. Two feed-in-tariff (FiT) programs were deployed by the country’s state-owned utility between 2017 and 2020. 


However, when these programs expired, Vietnam failed to administer a replacement, GEM says. As such, despite the nation adding 12GW of utility-scale solar capacity between 2019 and 2021, gaps in energy policy have started to limit progress. 


Just 1GW of utility-scale solar and wind was commissioned in Vietnam in 2022, in comparison with nearly 4GW in 2021. 


Thailand and the Philippines currently have the second and third highest utility-scale solar and wind capacity in the region, with 3GW of operating capacity each. 


Thailand is the second largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia and has benefitted from being seen as a “low-risk country”, notes GEM, with few barriers for investment. 


The Philippines, meanwhile, hosts a “streamlined project bidding system”, which allows for an “unencumbered pipeline of project development”, GEM says. Currently, around three-quarters of its operational utility-scale solar and wind capacity comes from solar. 


Future growth


There is currently a total of 222GW of announced, pre-construction and construction-stage utility-scale wind and solar capacity in ASEAN countries, according to GEM’s research.


More than 185GW of this pipeline of projects is in the Philippines and Vietnam, meaning they account for more than 80% of prospective capacity in the region. This is shown in the figure below.

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