Southeast Asia countries need energy diversification as demand seen surging

A boy looks at cargo ships passing along the Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee/File Photo

JAKARTA, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Energy demand in Southeast Asia countries could triple by 2050 and the region could become net importer of natural gas and coal before that if the region do not develop alternative sources of energy, a study by the region's energy sector body found.

For the 10-nation group Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), diversification of energy sources would be crucial, not only due to efforts to cut emissions, but also to meet rising energy demand, Nuki Agya Utama, executive director of ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) said on Thursday.

"The demand is increasing ... in line with that we need to provide stable supply, which would become a problem if the supply relies on one or two sources," he said in an interview.

According to a recent study by ACE, rapid economic growth in the region would push total energy consumption to an estimated 1.28 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2050, under a baseline scenario.

Meanwhile, without significant discoveries or diversification, Southeast Asia could become a net importer of natural gas by 2025 and coal by 2039. Southeast Asia is home to the world's top thermal coal exporter Indonesia.

Policy intervention is needed to help accelerate development of renewables and other alternative energies in the region.

Without policy interventions, the ASEAN's share of renewables would only 14.4% reach of the total primary energy supply by 2025, little changed from 14.2% in 2020 and falling short of the ASEAN target of target 23%.

"We need to consider installing nuclear power plant of around 4 gigawatt (capacity)," Nuki said, while also developing infrastructure for sources such as hydro power and geothermal energy, which the region has the second largest potential.

The region should also develop energy storage facilities to optimise future solar and wind power usage.

For transportation fuel, he said the region should increase usage of biofuel and bioethanol and increase usage of electric vehicles to 20% by 2050 to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

Editing by David Evans

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