Southeast Asia offers opportunities to scale up renewable energy, CEO says

SINGAPORE — Southeast Asia is going through an energy transition and there’s opportunity to scale up renewables in the region, according to the chief executive officer of a Philippines-based energy firm.

“We’re very bullish on renewables, obviously, in Southeast Asia,” said John Eric Francia of AC Energy, adding that the company has seen great momentum since it shifted its focus to cleaner energy sources in 2016.

AC Energy has 2,100 megawatts of renewable capacity and aims to increase that to 5,000 megawatts by 2025, he said. The company, which has operations in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Australia, says around 80% of its capacity comes from renewable sources.

While he acknowledged that the transition will be gradual, he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” that recent events have pointed to the opportunity in renewables.

“With everything — the volatility that’s happening in the global markets with fossil fuel and so forth, and the surprise resurgence of demand in various markets amidst the pandemic, I think we’ve got a great opportunity to really scale up renewables,” he said on Tuesday.

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Europe is facing an energy crisis as prices skyrocket due to a gas shortage and low wind output make it difficult for some countries to meet their energy needs.

The U.K. fired up an old coal power plant to produce more electricity, and experts say the European Union’s green ambitions could be hit by soaring gas prices.

But AC Energy’s Francia says renewables coupled with battery storage technology can solve this problem in the coming years, calling it a “massive opportunity.”

He said the critical element and enabler is battery storage, given the intermittent and renewable nature of energy sources like wind or solar.

“With the help from the electric vehicles sector, battery storage is becoming more and more scalable and competitive,” he said, predicting that it could be ready in three to five years’ time.

For now, countries have to plan the transition to clean energy and use other fuels to complement renewables, Francia said.

— CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC