Necessity is the mother of green energy. It has become increasingly evident that the era of clean and sustainable energy is setting in. The global race for renewable and alternative energy is speeding up. Underlying reasons include growing awareness of environmental impact of fossil fuels, the ever-present threats to energy security – be it market volatility, outbreak of war,
The green evolution is going faster than most expect, with China, South Korea and Japan already making advances on the green technology front. And there are abundant signals that fossilfuel- fed industrial age is coming to an end. (Dr Michael Nobel, the great-grand nephew of Sir Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, shares his insights into the carbon-free future in an exclusive interview given to AseanAffairs. page 54- 55)
Asean’s Green Efforts
By 2023, alternative sources will account for 20.4 percent of all energy consumed, compared with the present 6 percent, according to the Department of Alternative Energy Development
Meanwhile, Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation sees brighter prospects for Thailand-based clean mechanism development (CDM) projects.
CDM is a concept that allows developing countries such as Thailand to sell carbon credits to industrialised nations that have to reach emission-reduction obligations by 2012 as agreed under the Kyoto accord. Based on World Bank estimates, the 4-billion-tonne global carbon market was worth $120 billion last year, double the levels in 2007.
The Thai agency has approved 88 CDM projects with annual targeted emissions reductions of 6 million tonnes.
Thailand emits about 344 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.
Yet, Thailand lags behind its Asian peers in use of the CDM. As of May 2009, Thailand had 17 projects registered with the CDM executive board, compared with China (553), India (425), Malaysia (46), the Philippines (27), South Korea (27) and Indonesia (24).
Most of these countries have encouraged local businesses to invest in carbon reduction with incentives such as tax holidays and soft loans, as well as providing assistance with the often complex application and certification process.
Energy Network on a Slow Boat
This is indicated by the numerous initiatives the trade bloc has drawn up to reduce the reliance on oil imports. The Trans-Asean Energy Network, which was first conceived in the late 1980s
Natural gas forms the key component of the Trans-Asean Energy Network, a regional effort to ensure energy self sufficiency. The network covers the Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline and Asean Power Grid. When the grid was first mooted in 2002, Asean energy ministers estimated the entire grid to be ready by 2020 at a cost of $17 billion.
Nuclear Power versus Green Energy
And there are others believing nuclear power is inevitable if the Asean must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand are among those planning to tap nuclear
Yet, opportunities to renew the commitments to green energy are unfolding. The global economic crisis, which has hindered Asean’s development of alternative fuels, is now easing.