Southeast Asia is facing renewed pressure to cut back or scrap fossil subsidies that have kept the region a global laggard in renewable energy deployment, according to the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Asia Centre.
“For decades, Southeast Asian governments have helped the fossil fuels industry with generous subsidies,” the region’s Eco-Business newsletter reports, in a post republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. But “the evidence is getting harder to dispute. Clean energy can provide 100% of society’s electricity needs. Current renewable energy technology is reliable 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and industries’ insistence on using coal and other polluting sources for fear of intermittency—the inability of renewable energy to ensure an uninterrupted supply—no longer has a basis.”
Southeast Asia’s energy growth has doubled since 1995, and demand is expected to continue rising at a torrid 4.7% per year. “Coal largely feeds this demand, accounting for up to 40% of consumption,” Eco-Business notes. “But coal’s impact on climate change and air quality have made the need for a transition to clean energy more pressing than ever.”
That’s why energy subsidies have got to go, “except in cases where they serve a specific public purpose, such as giving the poor easier access to energy, or short-term incentives to get new clean energy technologies into the marketplace,” Eco-Business states, citing the Stockholm institute’s Peter du Pont.
“Governments need to be efficient with their use of capital,” added IEEFA energy finance analyst Sara Jane Ahmed. “Subsidies are not necessary in an industry where there are cheaper competing technologies.”