Resilience of Renewable Energy in Asia-Pacific to the COVID-19 Pandemic


On 11 March 2021, KAS RECAP hosted a webinar to launch and discuss a study on performance of the renewable energy before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia-Pacific. The research was conducted by the Energy Studies Institute (ESI), National University of Singapore.

Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, Senior Principal Fellow of the ESI and the lead author presented the key findings of the study, which assesses short and longer-term resilience of renewable energy (electricity and transport). It takes a close look into the change of the share of renewables in energy mix and in investment, economic recovery packages, and energy policies in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
From a short term perspective, there was a marginal increase in non-hydro renewable electricity in the countries above. Investment in new renewable energy stalled temporarily. In most countries, consumption of biofuels declined along with total transport fuels. It seems the share of biofuels increased in India only. For a longer term, there were no green recovery plans found in the countries. The governments focused more on economic stabilization, livelihoods, healthcare, and poverty alleviation. Though there was general policy support for new renewable energy capacity, ongoing investment in fossil fuels was observed at the same time.

Importance attached to renewable energy will continue to vary between countries depending on the political will and state capacity. Internal and external pressure for decarbonization will grow. Key challenges include interventions by different interest groups, preference for a small number of large power plants, biofuels’ costs and technology, and ability to scale up renewable energy.

Ms Hanh Le, Country Representative, Global Green Growth Institute Viet Nam and Prof Nitya Nanda, Director, Council for Social Development, New Delhi discussed the cases of Vietnam and India.

The Vietnamese Government is currently seeking comments on the power sector’s reform. Vietnam has been successful in terms of solar energy development mainly due to the effective policy measure. Despite this, fossil fuels still play an important role in the national energy mix. The private sector tends to be willing to invest in renewable energy. However, qualified green projects are lacking in the market. The curtailment problem in Vietnam is growing and becomes a hurdle for energy transition efforts. In Vietnam, renewable energy focuses more on the country’s center region. It depends a lot on planning. There are calls for green finance to invest more in renewable energy deployment in rural areas. In addition, shortage of land is also one of the challenges for non-fossil fuels’ development.

The Indian expert asserts that solar is more competitive to fossil fuels in India. The renewable energy systems for example solar power panels are technically easier to build than fossil fuels. However, due to the serious economic recession, it is difficult for the government to promote the renewable energy. India is importing a considerable amount of oil and coal, which is shaped by various interest groups in the country. Renewable energy with storage can be costly in India. There is generally a lack of financial resources for new renewable energy installation. It seems India will not have financial incentives for non-fossil fuels in the next two years because the country is facing a serious economic and financial problem led by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study can be downloaded here.



Dr. Christian Hübner


Leiter des Regionalprogramms Energiesicherheit und Klimawandel Asien und Pazifik +852 28822245