The Role of Renewables in Achieving Universal Access to Electricity in Southeast Asia

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Renewable Energy in Southeast Asia


This report summarizes the discussion from a CSIS roundtable held on June 25, 2018, as part of the CSIS-Pertamina Southeast Asia Energy Initiative. The discussion brought together government, industry, and policy experts to explore the role of renewable energy in providing electricity to the region’s 65 million residents who are currently without it. This was the second in a series of events this year examining the role of renewable energy in Southeast Asia and its security, economic, and political importance in the Indo-Pacific region.
Southeast Asia enjoys a high level of electrification, but the region’s diversity of economic development conditions, types of resource endowment, and topographical features (e.g., mountainous areas where it is difficult and costly to build transmission infrastructure and remote small islands that require infrastructure that crosses bodies of water) still leave room for improving electricity access. According to the International Energy Agency, approximately 90 percent of Southeast Asians have access to electricity. This has increased dramatically since 2000, when the agency estimated the region’s electrification rate at 62 percent. Electrification rates in 2016 ranged from 58.8 percent in Myanmar to 100 percent in Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand.
Understanding how electrification is measured and how this measurement can vary is important in efforts to ascertain the role of renewables in achieving universal electrification. This report reviews various technological, economic, policy, regulatory, and market factors, the dynamics they create in the electrification process in Southeast Asia, and the role renewables can play in achieving universal access.

Stephen Naimoli is a research associate in the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS. Jane Nakano is a senior fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS.

The report is made possible by the generous support of Pertamina


Jane Nakano
Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Change Program

Stephen J. Naimoli