Road to Renewables: SEA Needs a Fast Track Approach

Investments towards coal alternatives and resilient energy sources will be vital.

A whopping $29.4 trillion. This is the amount of funds needed to transform ASEAN into a region powered by 100% renewable energy. The transition to clean energy entails massive investments in new plants as well as grid expansion. And Southeast Asian nations have taken their early steps towards this goal.

The only alternative to mitigating the risks of global warming is to invest in renewable energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said that countries need to double their renewable power generation by 2030 to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

When it comes to ASEAN, the member nations have set ambitious targets to build sustainable energy systems. But at the core of these strategies will be fresh infusion of funds into clean energy. IRENA has advised ASEAN regulators to develop an effective transmission and distribution network so that there is a steady flow of capital into renewables.


ASEAN has taken a collective pledge to decarbonise the region’s power sector. Under the ASEAN Plan of Action of Energy Cooperation, the countries have set a renewable energy share of 23% in the total primary energy supply. These nations also aspire to have a 35% share of renewable energy in ASEAN installed power capacity by 2025.

Each country has taken a series of steps to achieve the clean energy targets. Here is a glimpse of where they stand:

  1. Indonesia: It aims to generate 23% of the primary energy supply from renewable energy by 2025. The country has taken steps to boost clean energy through solar powergeneration and subsidies for electric vehicles.  
  2. Malaysia: It aims to have 20% of renewable energy sources in its power capacity by 2025. The country has initiated the transition by planninglarge-scale solar power projects and expanding battery energy storage systems.
  3. Philippines: It has planned 20 gigawatts of renewable energy installed capacity by 2040. To fulfil this goal, it plans to focuson solar and wind power generation.
  4. Thailand: It targets a clean energy share of 30% in its total final energy consumption by 2036. The country will utilisea mix of hydropower and solar power to meet its targets.
  5. Vietnam: It plans to have a renewable energy share of 32.3% in 2030 and 44% in 2050 in its total primary energy consumption. Apart from solar, wind, and hydropower, the country has signed a Just Energy Transition Partnershipwith the International Partners Group. This agreement will mobilise an initial $15.5 billion of public and private finance over the next five years to support Vietnam’s green transition.

Singapore, which is considered a mature market, has a solar target of at least 2 gigawatt-peak (GWp) by 2030. It is also working with the US to identify clean energy partnership opportunities for ASEAN.


Though ASEAN is committed towards green energy, experts believe that the region needs multiple projects and additional investments to meet the climate goals.  

Vietnam, for instance, needs between $8 billion and $14 billion annually till 2030 to develop new power plants. Malaysia needs to invest at least $375 billion to achieve a net-zero target by 2050.

To achieve net zero by 2060, Indonesia will need to almost triple energy investment by 2030 from today’s level. The Philippines needs at least $121 billion of investments in renewable energy between 2020 to 2040 to attain its clean energy goals.

Interventions by the respective governments will not be enough to accomplish the net-zero and renewable energy goals. A mix of public and private funding avenues will help SEA accelerate its advance towards greener energy generation.

About the Author

Thao Nguyen

Thao Nguyen is ABP’s Country Manager – Vietnam. She is a dynamic leader with over 27 years of experience working for both global and local banks in Vietnam. Over the course of her career Thao has held senior leadership roles at HSBC, Citibank, ANZ, Techcombank and VIB