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Comment: Singapore conference documents Asia's leadership on climate change


Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA)

The 4th Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) was opened by a key-note speech of H.E. S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore. The Minister outlined Singapore's focus on the clean energy industry as a key growth area, which is expected to attract clean energy companies to set up their operations in Singapore, encourage research and development and test-bedding in clean energy technologies, create 7000 jobs and contributing AU$1.4 billion to GDP by 2015.

he Minister referred to Singapore as a living laboratory for renewable energy where a micro-grid testing project on one of the islands shall deliver concrete results how a high share of variable renewables can be integrated into the grid. Singapore has identified solar and biofuels as most promising renewable energy sources, however only a few pilot projects are implemented.

Broadening the outlook to the whole of Asia, Nobua Tanaka, the International Energy Agency's former Executive Director, followed the Minister posing the question "Growing Asian economies will shape the global energy future - where will their political decisions lead us?"

Tanaka outlined how a diversification of renewable energy sources combined with energy efficiency and demand management will play a key role in securing future energy supply.

REN21 launched its Renewables Global Status Report, in cooperation with ADB, at the Clean Energy Expo Asia, a synthesis of the rapid renewable energy growth throughout the world

According to the Renewables Global Status Report, renewable energy grew strongly in 2010 across all end-use sectors - power, heat and transport - and supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption.

Renewable energy accounted for approximately half of the estimated 194 GW of new electric capacity added globally during the year.

Renewables delivered close to 20% of global electricity supply in 2010, and by early 2011 they comprised one-quarter of global power capacity from all sources.

By early 2011, at least 118 countries had some type of policy target or renewable support policy at the national level, up from 55 countries in early 2005. There is also a large diversity of policies in place at state/provincial and local levels. Developing countries, which now represent more than half of all countries with policy targets and half of all countries with renewable support policies.

Further, manufacturing leadership continues to shift from Europe to Asia as countries like China, India, and South Korea increase their commitments to renewable energy.

The report highlighted that, at the end of 2010, developing countries collectively have more than half of global renewable power capacity.

China added an estimated 29 GW of grid-connected renewable capacity in 2010, for a total of 263 GW, an increase of 12% compared with 2009.

Renewables accounted for about 26% of China's total installed electric capacity, 18% of generation, and more than 9% of final energy generation. China now leads in several indicators of market growth: in 2010, it was the top installer of wind turbines and solar thermal systems and was the top hydropower producer.

At least 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa have active renewable energy markets.

'Our sustainable energy future will be delivered by the massive ramp up manufacture of all forms of renewable energy generation equipment and energy efficient appliances, production that will reduce costs and bring commercially competitive generation of renewable energy and efficient use of energy - and that is exactly what is happening right now,' says Professor Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA).

'REN21's Renewables Global Status Report highlights that global sentiment for renewables continues to flourish, more and more commitments are being made to support change in markets to make use of renewable energy.'

'And right now developing nations and especially China are both leading and pushing world clean energy markets - leading through their own industry development and pushing through plans for deployment of energy efficiency solutions to energy demand and consumption of renewable energy,' says Prof Wills.

Professor Wills also joined the CNBC's Harvard Business Review Energy Opportunities executive brainstorm in Singapore held in conjunction with Singapore International Energy Week. Prof Wills joined around 100 senior leaders including Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, a range of CEOs, Managing Directors, CFOs, senior managers senior bureaucrats, with all the action being lead by Geoff Cutmore, host of CNBC's flagship morning show, Squawk Box Europe.

The brainstorm topic was a scenario painted from the future of 2035 looking back to 2011 posing a question of how were emissions cuts of 25% from 2011 actually achieved? The key responses were a combination of the right price on energy - removing fossil fuel subsidies as well as pricing carbon - combined with a market response eliciting substantial energy efficiency savings across business activity, increased renewable electricity use facilitated by smart grids and networks supplying electric cars and public transport, and most importantly transformed cities. The broadcast of the event will occur on CNBC later this month.

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