Bridging the sustainability divide in Southeast Asia: balancing aspirations and achievements

Bridging Southeast Asia's sustainability divide: challenges and hope

Southeast Asia’s renewable energy level is highly on par with the global average with a variety of Renewable Energy (RE) resources, which include bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal, and ocean energy potential. Since 2000, the region has tripled its RE-installed capacity, with a variety of RE resources being available. However, although Southeast Asia's RE level is on par with the global average, there are gaps in developing Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) such as solar PV and wind.

Nonetheless, Southeast Asia is emerging as a key player in global energy transitions. The ASEAN Charter's commitment is to ensure "sustainable development for the benefit of the present and future generations and to place the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the people." For instance, with Southeast Asia providing 6% of the world’s bauxite, it certainly has the potential to be a green superpower.  

In fact, Sunview Group, Malaysia's top green energy-saving company, has undertaken end-to-end solar energy solution services covering residential, commercial, industrial, and large-scale solar with its solar PV rooftop. However, despite the policies and action plans in place, there are still many factors that need to be addressed in the field of renewable energy and sustainability adoption.

This then leaves us with a question: with all the policies and action plans in place, can Malaysia and the countries involved achieve the targeted sustainable future?

Challenges, Setbacks, and Hold-ups

According to the Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2022 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), there is a high reliance on coal and fossil fuels, which are targeted to increase by around 3% a year until 2030. This will lead to a 35% increase in Southeast Asia's CO2 emissions from 2020 levels. 

Sticking to the traditional paths of business as usual means that corporations place more value on short-term impacts than on the long-term benefits of a sustainable future. Unfortunately, many still have the outdated mindset that sustainability is expensive, and this results in SMEs having inadequate knowledge and capability to assimilate environmental issues into their development plans. Some, with a common understanding of what sustainability truly means, also refuse to shift and venture towards the risky and "extreme" technology that gears towards it without trying to understand its implementation. 

Take the transition to solar energy, for instance, where the first thing that comes to mind is how expensive it is to implement. However, when explored a little deeper, one would find that there are specific products, such as SunValue. Companies can embark on their sustainability journey without any upfront payment. Green financing solutions make it even easier to attain. 

Even for many companies, hiring "green talent" with a strong background in ESG to handle and maintain resources and management is still not deemed crucial. Although there is a growing trend in sustainability-related job hiring, there is also a global shortage of green talent.

‘Hope is renewable’

These days, more ASEAN countries are putting in extreme efforts to achieve long-term renewable energy targets, including revising their targets for renewable energy deployment across the region. Malaysia is a step closer to reaching the Malaysia Renewable Energy Roadmap (MyRER) goal of increasing the RE share to 31% or 12.9 GW in 2025 and 40% or 18.0 GW in 2035, in addition to reducing its economy-wide carbon intensity against GDP to 45% in 2030 compared to 2005 levels. There are high aims for the country's RE potential to tap into 269 GW of solar, 13.6 GW of hydro, and 3.6 GW of bioenergy. For instance, by tapping into 10% of the 269 GW solar market, Sunview Group can reduce CO2 by 17,189,100 kg and contribute towards reducing 45% of carbon emissions by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goals). 

Moreover, the government has numerous programs and frameworks in place, such as the Government Green Purchase Program to promote sustainability adoption and the 12th Malaysia Plan to make Malaysia a carbon-neutral, net-zero emission country by 2050. In addition, financial support, including grants, green bonds, tax breaks, and exemptions, plays a significant role in the initiatives to aid businesses in making the switch to RE. 

In conclusion, there is still much work to be done in bridging the sustainability divide in Southeast Asia. While the region has made significant progress in the renewable energy sector, there are still challenges to be addressed: the high reliance on coal and fossil fuels, inadequate knowledge and capability among SMEs, and a shortage of green talent. However, Malaysia, among other developed ASEAN countries, is taking steps to achieve its long-term renewable energy targets and adopt sustainable practices. As for Sunview Group, we are committed to supporting this transition through our end-to-end solar energy solutions and innovative products such as SunValue and SunVertax. With continued government initiatives and support, there is hope for a sustainable future in Southeast Asia.

Connect with us today to learn how you can take action and put your business on an ESG-compliant path.

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