Fundamentals governing the long-term investment in power generation infrastructure across Southeast Asia remain strong. Estimates put electricity demand growing by 80 percent in the next 25 years. Despite projected gains in renewable energy generation, the share of the energy mix accounted for by coal is expected to expand over the next 10 years. Even in countries where renewable energy has regulatory support, mainly in the form of feed-in tariffs, many opportunities for solar and wind projects remain undeveloped.
Disruptive forces present the largest ever threat and opportunity for traditional independent power producers and utilities in Asia. Renewable energy is itself a disruptive force and introductions are creating volatile electric capacity that is forcing and preventing change. Grid management is the real headache for under-resourced utilities operating in developing markets with significant socio-economic sensitivities to rising electricity costs.
Traditional power generation models allow them to provide more reliable service. New generation options employing gas-fired and cleaner coal-fired generation technologies can ease carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour and retard emissions growth as they come online.
A Changing Landscape
This is only a mid-term solution, however, as competitive change is coming faster to the market than ever experienced before. Aspirations to meet higher clean energy targets are real and continue to gather political momentum. The cost of large-scale solar and wind projects is reducing year-on-year. Knowledge and capability on integrating renewables, microgrids, hybrid and distributed generation systems is increasing. Dense load centers in many megacities in Asia mean that there is high potential of digitizing power services.
Each utility and market will face different challenges and experience different speeds of adaption and change. What’s clear is that traditional power providers must figure out how to start and integrate renewable energy before new competition outpaces them and displaces their market share. The questions that must be asked: how to start smart; how to make the first steps to implementing smart grids?
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