Distributed energy source could provide 50% of green power in Southeast Asia: expert


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Beyond large-scale projects like power plants, the development of renewable energy sources may find significant traction in rooftop solar and electric vehicles, potentially reshaping the market landscape. Experts suggest that with appropriate policies in place, these small-scale distributed energy resources (DER) could contribute to over half of Southeast Asia’s green electricity.

Gabrielle Kuiper, a DER specialist at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), highlighted in an interview with “This Week in Asia,” a media under South China Morning Post, that Southeast Asian countries serve as technology hubs, particularly in solar and battery production capacities. “All of these technologies could be very effective in Southeast Asia,” she emphasized.

DER refers to all small-scale generation or storage devices, such as individual rooftop solar panels, electric vehicles, storage batteries, etc., which can be freely chosen to be integrated with the local grid or not.

Kuiper believes that DER systems can help unlock the renewable energy potential in Southeast Asia, with an estimated scale reaching billions of dollars and can accelerate the region’s development into a clean energy hub.

Took China and South Korea as examples, she pointed out that many local automobile manufacturers are trying to send the vehicle’s power back to homes or integrate it into the grid. She explained that, “An EV is just a battery on wheels. You can have a power point in your car or truck, and you can plug in whatever, whether it’s a power tool [or something else]”.

Indonesian research institutions are also optimistic about distributed energy sources. Deon Arinaldo, Energy Transformation Program Manager at the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), cited research results that Indonesia’s rooftop solar panel generation potential could reach 655 GW.

Tim Buckley, founder of the independent think tank Climate Energy Finance, shares a similar perspective. He stated that a logistics center in Horsens, Denmark, is currently constructing the world’s largest rooftop solar installation, with a capacity of up to 35 MW, equivalent in scale to a conventional solar power plant.

He believes that DER will experience a rapid development, although it has not been fully utilized yet, especially in India and some other Asian countries. These regions have limited land area but possess abundant solar resources.

However, the development of this distributed energy still faces challenges. Kuiper believes that current solar power systems are mostly designed for larger generators, lacking technical standards, regulations, and market access opportunities for small-scale equipment. Buckley also pointed out that regulatory agencies must undergo reform, as they currently prioritize the interests of power companies and grid operators.

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