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Renewable Energy Across the Globe: Asia

Great steps have been made across the globe toward adopting more environmentally conscious energy sources. How each continent makes use of their varied resources is what sets them apart from each other.
Here’s what’s happening in Asia:

Southern Asia and India has high population densities and high solar insolation, making these ideal locations for use of solar power. In Nepal solar energy is more reliable than traditional sources of electricity.

Japan is one of the world’s largest producers of photovoltaic electricity; the most notable example is the Tohoku Electric Power plant in Hachinohe, Aomori, which hosts 10,000 solar panels on a 50,000 square-meter site and is expected to produce over 1.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. China produces more than half of the world’s solar PV panels. In addition, China has an installed solar capacity of around 50 MW. China has plans to expand their installed solar capacity to 20 GW by 2020. Korea comes in 4th in the world for installed solar capacity, largely due to a generous feed-in tariff system. Eight solar power generation plants have been installed in Pakistan, so far, with eleven more in the works. In Indonesia, Bangladesh and India, the solar PV sector is comparatively underdeveloped. Most solar energy systems in these areas are used in rural, decentralized areas to aid with water pumping and off-grid lighting.

In the wake of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan is making great strides toward increasing their share of renewable energy generation. At the end of 2012, Japan had 7.4 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, with plans to add more. In Korea, government financing for renewable projects has been doubled and tax breaks for renewable energy technologies expanded. The World Bank has backed the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project in Bangladesh to bring solar energy to a wider population. Several large projects have been proposed in India which could result in upwards of 2,000 GW of solar energy.

China, with the world’s most abundant wind resource, ranks fourth among wind power producers after the United States, Germany, and Spain. By 2009 alone China had an installed capacity of 26 GW of wind energy. Despite only having adopted wind power in earnest relatively recently, India has the fifth largest installed capacity of wind energy in the world. Japan had almost 2000 wind turbines installed by 2011 alone, with a capacity of 2,440 MW.  Several wind power plants are being developed in Pakistan.

Originally, the Chinese government had set a target of 10 GW of installed wind energy capacity by 2010. However, since 25 GW had already been installed by 2009, the goal was been increased to 100 GW by 2020. The target set by the Indian Government is 11 GW of wind energy by 2017. Efforts to increase installed wind energy capacity in Japan are hindered by a lack of locations with constant wind as well as other restrictions.

The main renewable energy resource in both Pakistan and Japan is hydroelectricity and both countries are looking into ways to make use of tidal power in the future. Japan had over 1000 small hydropower plants by the end of 2011, with a total capacity of 3,225 MW. China had a further 200 GW of hydroelectric capacity installed by 2010, with more planned. Indonesia has set a goal to install 2 GW of hydroelectric energy capacity.

As of 2006, China has almost 200 known geothermal systems and 2,700 surface hot springs. The estimated potential energy from these systems is over 1,700 MW. So far, only 32 MW had been taken advantage of by 2006, but this is still enough to make them the second largest direct user of geothermal energy in the world. The Phillipines, on the other hand, is the world’s second largest generator of geothermal energy with 1.9 GW of installed capacity, followed by Indonesia with 1.3 GW. Japan has a further 18 geothermal plants, as of 2011.

In 2008 alone Japan produced 322 million tons of fuel from biomass. By 2011, Japan had set up 70 independent plants to burn this fuel for energy. China is the world’s third largest producer of ethanol-based fuels, and 20% of cars in China use this type of fuel. China plans to step up its production of ethanol-based fuel to 15 megatons per year by 2020. The Indian government has been promoting energy from waste projects and has estimated that a potential of approximately 3000 MW of energy from urban and industrial waste currently exists. At a domestic level, in China and Indonesia, among others, ‘bioenergy’ is still used in the form of wood-burning stoves for warmth and cooking.
Want to know what’s happening in the other continents? Check below:

Africa – lots of untapped potential
Antartcica – yes, even in Antarctica
Asia – find out how Japan is doing in response to the Fukushima nuclear accident and where the rest of Asia is at renewable energy
Australia – hydroelectricity accounts for almost 60% of their renewable energy
Europe – guess which country has the first commercial wave farm
North America – who is the world’s largest wind producer, Canada, Mexico or the United States?
South America – find out why it is the leader in electricity from renewable sources.


Kathryn Hannis

Kathryn spent the first half of her life in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States. Then, just as she was about to begin her freshman year in high school, her family uprooted and transplanted to The Hague, the Netherlands, Europe. Kathryn studied Environmental Engineering at NAU, in Flagstaff, Arizona, and then later moved back to the Netherlands to get a Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Technology.

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