Asia and the Pacific region collectively comprise a large and dynamic region with 4.4 billion people living in 58 markets ranging from the world’s largest energy consumer (China) to small island economies. This region accounts for more than half of global energy consumption, with 85% of this consumption coming from fossil fuels. Even so, about 10% of the people in this area lack access to electricity and rely on traditional biomass consumption (such as wood combustion) for cooking and heating. Demand for energy is rising due to urbanization and industrialization, but many opportunities exist to avoid carbon-based energy.[1]

Renewable Energy Installed Capacity

Asia’s renewable energy installed capacity reached approximately 1,455,712 MW in 2021, accounting for 47.51% of the global total. The top five Asian countries with renewable energy installed capacity include China with the largest percentage, followed by India, Japan, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea. [2]

Trends in Renewable Energy by Region, Installed Capacity

Source: IRENA, 2022[3]

Renewable Energy Electricity Generation

Electricity generation in Asia from renewable energy sources reached 2,894,738 gigawatts per hour (GWh) in 2019 (which is 41.57% of the global total).  The top five Asian countries creating electricity via renewable energy include China with the largest percentage, followed by India, Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia.[4]

Trends in Renewable Energy by Region, Electricity Generation

Source: IRENA, 2020[5]

What Types of Renewable Energy are Currently Used in Asia?

The following table outlines 2019 Asian renewable power generation statistics. Renewable energy technologies currently in use include hydropower, wind, bioenergy, solar, geothermal, and marine.

Source: International Renewable Energy Agency, 2021[6]

Asia Super Grid

The Asia Super Grid (ASG) is a joint effort to build an ocean-floor power network to connect the electric power systems of Asian countries, enabling benefits through renewable energy (e. g. wind, solar and hydropower) exchange.[7] The ASG, which would be a massive system of interconnected electricity grids, is being backed by China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Mongolia, and utilities including the State Grid Corporation of China, Korea Electric Power Corporation, Rossetti (Russia), and Newcom (Mongolia).[8] In July 2019, the Asia International Grid Connection Group released a third report presenting the latest situation regarding interconnectors in Northeast Asia, and the situation in the United Kingdom and Spain, which are disadvantaged for interconnections in Europe. The benefits of interconnections for Japan were analyzed qualitatively, and analyses of energy security issues related to interconnectors were also examined.[9]

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Working Group

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region accounts for approximately 60 percent of world energy demand, and includes four of the world's five largest energy users (China; Japan; Russia; and the United States). The APEC Energy Working Group (EWG), established in 1990, is comprised of policy officials and subject matter experts from APEC Member Economies, who work with stakeholders in academia, private industry, and regional and international organizations to promote energy efficiency. The EWG aims to strengthen regional and local energy security and resilience; lower carbon energy supply and use; promote the diversification of fuels and sources, and train an energy workforce. EWG is working towards APEC’s target of reducing aggregate energy intensity by 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2035 through collaboration on analysis of available energy efficient technologies, energy efficiency standard harmonization, and peer review on energy efficiency.[10] The group’s work is guided by its Strategic Plan for 2019–2023.[11]

According to the APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook (7th Edition), the final energy demand of APEC economies is forecasted to increase by 2050 to 21 percent above 2016 levels. However, over 80 percent of the region’s primary energy demand in 2050 will still likely be met by fossil fuels. The report also shows that APEC is on track in reaching its goal of reducing energy intensity by 45 percent by 2029, six years ahead of 2035, the targeted year. However, APEC will be unable to achieve the goal of doubling the share of renewables in the energy mix by 2030 in a business-as-usual scenario. [12] The Asia Pacific Energy Research Center (APERC) typically prepares a new version of the Outlook every 3 years, with the latest version expected to be released some time in 2022. [13]

Updated June 2022 by Diane M. Long