Renewable energy efforts in APAC have surpassed Europe and the US in the last few years, although there's still a huge dependence on fossil fuels still.

Renewable energy efforts in APAC have surpassed Europe and the US in the last few years, although there’s still a huge dependence on fossil fuels still.

How Amazon deals with renewable energy issues in APAC

  • In part two of this series on renewable energy in APAC, Tech Wire Asia speaks to Ken Haig, Head of Energy Policy for Asia Pacific & Japan at AWS on how the company approaches the challenges of procuring renewable energy in the region.
  • Read Part One here.

The Asia Pacific comprises 60% of the world’s highest growing population. With said increased growths come higher energy needs — in fact, consuming half the world’s energy supply, according to the UN. However, most APAC nations are still dependent on fossil fuels, although many are keen to transition to clean and renewable energy sources.

Interestingly, renewable energy (RE) efforts in APAC have surpassed Europe and the US in the last few years. However, huge consumption and efforts into procuring RE are largely skewed largely towards nations such as China, India, and Australia, due mostly to significant growth in projects.

As compared to most of the western world, most of the APAC region comprises developing nations, with huge amounts of mouths to feed. It is thus integral that these nations secure clean, affordable, and sustainable energy to drive their economic and social growth.

Renewable energy issues in APAC

According to BMI research, some APAC countries still suffer from slowed investments and installations of clean energy. However, they are confident that the region is generally expected to lead the deployment of renewables within the next 10 years, to the tune of some 500 gigawatts of non-hydro capacity.

“In APAC (as in other markets in which Amazon operates around the world), we continue to collaborate with private and public organizations to overcome these barriers and invest in more projects in the region.

“We know that addressing the global crisis of climate change will take a combination of big, bold commitments and everyday actions”, he added.

He shared that Amazon’s approach employs five specific strategies to meet its renewable energy goals:

  • Energy efficiency: Innovate to continuously increase the energy efficiency of their operations
  • Off-site renewable projects: Invest in new, utility-scale renewable energy projects
  • On-site solar: Deploy rooftop solar systems on buildings they operate. 
  • Site energy contracts: Participate in green tariff programs with utilities and pursue new renewable projects through competitive site energy contracts. 
  • Policy engagement: Support public policies that advances access to and the expansion of clean energy for Amazon and its customers.

“This is why in APAC we are working with organizations such as the Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP) in Japan, corporate Renewable Energy Demand Enhancement (REDE) initiative in India, Clean Energy Investment Accelerator (CEIA) Group in Indonesia, and the AI Leaders’ Group on Energy and Climate in Australia.”

“Countries in Asia can really learn from the collaboration between public and private partners in other markets that are enabling better renewable energy procurement mechanisms, making it easier for corporates to invest in utility-scale renewable energy projects in the region.”

The importance of cloud computing

Haig believes that a focus on collaboration and partnership in the industry and public sector in each market would be the way forward to meet the region’s clean energy needs. This sentiment is echoed by many in the industry, including the Asian Development Bank

Amazon works with a number of industry groups around the world that have already made very specific recommendations in this regard.  

A recent study by 451 Research found that businesses that move to cloud infrastructures can see a reduction of 78% in their carbon footprint. 

The same study found that if cloud service providers could power their operations on 100% renewable energy, there would be a further 15% boost to carbon reduction.

As for Amazon, they will be using the data and findings from the report to raise greater awareness amongst policymakers and regulators on the carbon reduction value of moving IT to AWS Cloud, and the additional value of making renewable energy more accessible for corporate purchase.

Amazon is also the co-founder of The Climate Pledge where signatories commit to eliminating carbon, responsible reporting, and credible offsets by 2040. This is 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. 

“We continue to invite more companies, including in APAC, to join The Climate Pledge and work together towards a low carbon future”, he added.  

Key players driving the RE mission in APAC

Renewable energy in the Asia Pacific is definitely increasing, and will further put a dent in the use of fossil fuels, even though the latter is still the dominant source of energy. 

Indeed, renewable energy is seen by many to be a key growth area in key APAC economies, as well as the world. According to ESCAP, leaders of these efforts are likely to be Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

However, Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia, is showing a lot of promise in becoming Asia’s “next green powerhouse”. According to a World Bank report, Vietnam now boasts the highest installed capacity of solar power in Southeast Asia, generating 16,500MW at the end of 2020. Additionally, IRENA shows that Vietnam is in the top 10 countries in the world with the highest capacity of solar energy installed.

BMI Research states that China and India will be the chief drivers, adding 430 MW of new wind and solar through 2027. It also forecasts that India will add around 164 GW of non-hydro capacity over the decade, an increase of 165 percent on current installed capacity.

In the third part of this series, Tech Wire Asia will explore how what countries and businesses can do to drive the renewable energy mission in APAC.