Growing economies should not only depend on depleting, polluting and volatile energy sources with steady increasing prices, when it has access to new renewable energy technologies that could ensure ‘flat and relatively lower prices’ over a time horizon of 20-25 years time. Among the renewable energy technologies, generation of electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has exhibited the fastest growth. Globally, over 110 GW of solar PV has been installed to date, of which over 45 GW are in Germany, which is 41% of the global installed capacity.
Why solar PV? Because it is easy to install and it boosts power supply almost instantly to support economic growth ambitions. For example, a 30 MW solar PV power plant can be built in less than 6 months, while its equivalent in hydro or geothermal power could require more than 4-6 years! Its diesel or gas equivalent could be installed in a short period of time; a coal-fired power plant would require 2-3 years.
ASEAN populations require an energy-mix that will be clean, quick and affordable. While growing energy demands need to be satisfied by increasing power generation sources, the recognition and implementation of energy-efficiency – as the “fifth fuel” – is equally important in our economies. Our leaders in ASEAN must therefore find the ‘magix’, which is the “magic in the mix” of energy sources, being oil, natural gas, coal and clean and safe renewables. One technology alone will not be able to solve our growing energy demand.
The biggest challenge is to shift the minds of government and corporate decision-makers and academia towards understanding that renewable is doable, can be done and must be done. They need to be made aware of the fact that renewable energy technologies are mature and ready to be fully deployed and add value to the mix. Now!