Singapore is different to all the other countries we have reported about so far and the measures it is taking to combat climate change are subsequently also very different. The combination of extremely limited resource availability and a dense island population mean that cleaning up the energy mix and reducing carbon emissions is a real challenge for Singapore. It has no fossil fuel resources and very little opportunity to use renewables but emissions-reducing measures do need to be implemented as it is host to several emissions-intensive industries.
The government of Singapore has set out a four part plan to meet it emissions reduction targets – called the Climate Action Plan. Energy efficiency is often seen as the “low hanging fruit” in emissions reduction measures but for Singapore, with its limited renewable energy options, it is the backbone of their Climate Action Plan. Other parts of the plan include reducing emissions from electricity generation, building up the nation’s alternative energy technology market and encouraging collective action. Solar is likely the only renewable technology type that will play a major role in Singapore’s power sector but they are attracting a lot of clean energy companes to the region with their cutting-edge research (e.g. floating solar PV farms, microgrid interconnection, integrating solar into urban environments) and supportive policy environment for alternative energy development.
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Taiwan has limited fossil fuel reserves and as a result imports almost all of their energy supply. This imported energy supply makes up 98% Taiwan’s total energy and is highly dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, there have been a number of challenges when attempting to increase the proportion of renewable energy within their energy mix. Taiwan’s energy supply, including imports, consists mainly of oil (48%), coal (29%) and natural gas (13%). Of the energy that is produced domestically, biomass contributes the largest amount, accounting for 1.38% of the total energy supply.
Biomass is the main source of energy produced in Taiwan. Of the 2% of domestically produced energy, just over half of this comes from biomass. Biomass has likely been successfully implemented due to Taiwan’s large agriculture sector. However, Taiwan may face difficulties when attempting to further increase the amount of renewable energy within the system. Pairing intermittent renewable energy with imported fossil fuels (mainly oil and coal) will reduce the energy security within the system. This will place Taiwan at a higher risk of blackouts.
In order for Taiwan to continue to increase their renewable energy production, a restructuring of the energy system must occur.
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As one of the largest countries in the world with the biggest population, China faces unique challenges in its energy sector. With more than 1.3 billion residents, the effects of global warming have the potential to affect millions and millions of its people, so climate change is undeniably of great concern to China. Because of the vast quantities of coal consumed by the country, China is also the world’s largest emitter of energy-related CO2 emissions. The use of coal for electricity generation is not only responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, it is also responsible for a significant amount of China‘s air pollution.
Changing to a cleaner energy supply is a key part of China’s plans to tackle climate change and the Chinese government is actively promoting renewables as an important part of transitioning to a low carbon economy. In 2013, China installed more renewable energy capacity than all of Europe and the Asia Pacific region and it is still increasing. China’s 13th Five Year Plan for energy was released recently and it outlines specific targets for energy consumption and energy resource use including increasing the percentage of non-fossil energy consumption to at least 15% of total consumption and reducing the share of coal to 58%. This is a big transition for historically coal-dependent China but it has stepped up and made impressive changes already. There are going to be a large number of clean energy projects coming online in the next four years and we will see unprecedented growth in related jobs.
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Thailand’s approach to increasing the proportion of renewable energy within their energy mix has been slow and gradual. However, a transformation within the Thai energy sector is expected to change this. Thailand currently has a short-term target, which aims to increase renewable energy to 20.3% by 2022. As of 2015, the majority of the energy produced within the country was natural gas (64%), followed by coal (20%) and renewable energy (8%). Thailand’s rapid growth coupled with a depletion in their supplies of natural gas has meant that a diversification of the Thai energy sector must inevitably occur.
Despite the majority of Thailand’s energy generation coming from natural gas, the country consumes mainly petroleum products (54%). This is likely due to the large amounts of petroleum imported into the country, coupled with a recent reduction in its price. Despite generating enough energy to be self-sufficient, Thailand likely relies on imports and exports as a result of their highly dependent energy mix and depleting supplies. This lack of diversity within their energy system and depleting supply of fossil fuels reserves will present Thailand with some future challenges regarding the security and sustainability of their energy system. In an attempt to minimise these problems before they arise, the Thai Government has developed a number of plans in order to diversify their power sector.
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Indonesia’s energy sector is making a tremendous transformation to complete energy independence, despite unique challenges of having the world’s fourth largest population spread over thousands of islands. Indonesia, formerly an oil-exporting nation and OPEC member, has long been reliant on oil in its energy mix but since the decline in its oil reserves it has been importing vast quantities of oil to make up the shortfall – instead of utilising its vast local energy resources. Indonesia has enormous reserves of coal and natural gas and is the world’s largest coal exporter. In order to secure its energy supply, Indonesia is aiming to significantly reduce its oil consumption and replace it with local energy resources including coal, gas and renewables. It has set ambitious targets for this transformation and although renewables are not the only focus in these energy targets, the renewable energy sector is likely to experience a period of growth as a result of it.
Indonesia has made commitments to reduce it greenhouse gas emissions and is focusing on the largest source of emissions currently – the land use and forestry sector. However, the share from the energy sector is expected increase and by 2030 it will be the biggest source of national emissions. There is clearly an opportunity to increase the use of renewables to mitigate these emissions.Growth in renewables in Indonesia will be primarily focused on geothermal energy and hydro. The wind and solar industries are still in their infancy. Indonesia has the resources to attract developers from within the country and internationally, particularly in the geothermal, hydro and bioenergy fields. Total investment in renewable energy in 2016’s first quarter came to $327 million and this will likely increase as the industry further develops.
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