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Renewable energy grow slowly in Asia-Pacific region

New and renewable energy sources will increase at an annual rate of 1.3% in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Asia-Pacific region must invest between US$7 and US$9.7 trillion in the energy sector between 2005 and 2030 to meet the rapidly growing demand for energy, says ADB’s Energy Outlook for Asia & the Pacific. Regional energy demand will grow by 2.4% every year during that time, outpacing the world average of 1.5%.

Nearly 80% of the Asia-Pacific region’s energy in 2030 will be supplied by coal, oil and natural gas, and this will drive the growth in CO2 emissions, it warns. Coal will maintain the highest share of at 38.3% with annual growth of 2.1%, while oil will supply 27% of the region’s demand by 2030, with annual growth of 2.2%. Natural gas will grow by 3.6% per year to supply 14.5% of demand in 2030.

New and renewable energy will represent the fourth-largest share of total primary energy demand, at 11.2% in 2030. Biomass will account for bulk of this share and, since biomass will be replaced with commercial energy sources, renewable energy are projected to increase slowly, at an annual rate of 1.3%.

Off-grid rural areas rely on biomass, which will decline with improved access to commercial energy sources and higher living standards. Other renewable energy, including wind, solar and geothermal, will increase at a faster rate.

Demand for nuclear energy will increase by 5.1% per year to account for 7.1% of demand in 2030, while hydroelectric will grow 3% per year to reach 2% of total demand.

“Cooperation among the economies is needed to enhance energy security and sustainable development in the region," says ADB vice-president Lawrence Greenwood. “This can be done through sharing policy information, facilitating energy trade and conducting joint energy projects.”

Access to modern forms of energy is a necessary condition for economic development and a high standard of living, the report states. In 2005, in the Asia-Pacific region, 930 million people did not have access to electricity.

“There is no panacea for making electricity accessible for all regions,” it notes. “In remote areas, where connection to the national or regional grid is costly beyond a recoverable level, off-grid power technology may be a preferable option. The off-grid power technologies include solar home systems, mini-hydro, wind, and village mini-grids using diesel generators or local renewable energy sources.”

The report was published jointly by ADB and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, with research undertaken by the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre of The Institute of Energy Economics of Japan. It provides details on renewable energy and other energy sources for 38 countries of ADB’s 48 regional members, including China, India, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

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