Sustainable Generation Roadblocks: Fuels must Complement not Compete

Sustainable Generation Roadblocks: Fuels must Complement not Compete

The emphasis on sustainable generation continues to grow. While ASEAN is beginning to gain traction in the renewable (RE) energy scope, there are still significant country-specific hurdles many nations will need to overcome. Vietnam, the unofficial leader in renewables in the region, has embarked upon the country’s RE integration enthusiastically. Approximately 10% of Vietnam’s national power is attained from RE. Whereas in Indonesia, the government has set out to increase RE accounting for 48% from 30% as part of the 2021-2030 national energy plan. Still, other ASEAN countries seem fixed in sustainable energy limbo while preparing and researching how to move forward.

During a recent Enlit Asia panel, the discussion concentrated on the journey to sustainable generation in ASEAN. Our panel’s consensus was mainly positive as they addressed the opportunities uncovered of low-carbon energy solutions, including renewables.

Junichiro Masada, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Mitsubishi Power, said that he understands all too well the energy plight ASEAN countries face. Japan’s energy situation is very similar to that of Indonesia, Thailand, as well as Malaysia. Masada said that for now, biomass, in combination with technology solutions, is a promising resolution and one Mitsubishi is banking on to decrease C02.

“The first step should be biomass, and Mitsubishi has experience with biomass all over the world. We are now utilising working with new technology to utilise the [lowly] rice husk. And the second step is gas turbine combined cycle,” Masada said. Another solution he believes will make a positive impact is natural gas which emits less C02 than coal as well as hydrogen. But for now and according to Masada, biomass may be the low-hanging fruit.

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While biomass seems like a good fit for many ASEAN countries, one roadblock which Edwin Nugraha Putra, Executive Vice President, Electricity System Planning, PT PLN (Persero), raised was the cost. “In Indonesia right now, we are using coal mainly, but the biomass option is not economical yet because the industry is not there yet. However, we are planning and working with other governments to grow the biomass area, and when the price is better, it is possible 6-12 million tonnes per year,” he said. With the price, which will eventually lower and with the government’s support and the people of Indonesia, Putra believes Indonesia can increase from 5-20% of coal to biomass.

The price of biomass will lower as the technology becomes more advanced. Mitsubishi was transparent and very aware of this challenge which is why the company is already internally addressing the economic impact of utilising biomass to ensure the viability to power companies.

Other speakers included Ashwin Narayanan, Head of Special Projects & Renewable Energy of Malakoff Corporation Berhad, and Chatchai Mawong, Director of Hydro and Renewable Energy for Power Plant Development Division of EGAT, also weighed in with insights on the potential of renewables in ASEAN. The conversation was lively, and overall, the dialogue was ripe with a sharing of ideas on how power companies and countries can support the SDG7 goals of affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.

Fuels Sources Should Complement Not Compete

The roadmap to sustainable generation will be different for each country and will require agility and a combination of decisiveness and action. But as was uncovered in this discussion, fuels should not necessarily compete against each other but complement. Perhaps this is the answer to a harmonious energy mix where all fuels work together symbiotically for the common goal and one which is top of mind – a significant reduction of carbon emissions in the ASEAN region.    

Register here to access the full discussion: Mitsubishi Power presents The Roadmap to Sustainable Generation.

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