Towards A 100% Electrified Southeast Asia
Electrified Rural and Remote Areas in Southeast Asia
160.3 million people in Southeast Asia were unelectrified and almost 80% of them live in rural and remote areas.
Rural electrification is the process of bringing electrical power to rural and remote areas. Electricity is used not only for lighting and household purposes, but it also allows for mechanization of many farming operations, such as threshing, milking, and hoisting grain for storage; in areas facing labor shortages, this allows for greater productivity at reduced cost.
Energy alone is not sufficient for creating the conditions for economic growth, but it is certainly necessary and access to electricity is one of the clearest and un-distorted indication of a country’s energy poverty status.
Actually, Southeast Asia has made dramatic efforts to increase the electrification rates in both rural and urban areas. This regional progress is mainly due to the rapid electrification with an electrification rate jumping from 42.8% to 60.2% in only 6 years. Singapore led the progress by reached full electrification 100%, followed by Brunei Darussalam (99.7%), Malaysia (99,4%), Thailand (99,3%) and Vietnam (89.30%). However, Myanmar still stay at very low rate 13%, Cambodia at 24% and Indonesia alone has more than 80 million people without access to electricity. In total, there are still 160.3 million people unelectrified in the region and almost 80% of them live in rural and remote areas.
In contrast, The International Energy Agency estimates that in 2008, 1.5 billion people, or 22% of the world’s population, had no access to electricity, of whom 85% live in rural areas. Since 2002, the unelectrified population has decreased worldwide by 161 million, despite the growth in world population of more than 500 million. However, if globally the situation is improving, the regional developments diverge ever more. Whereas Latin America and Asia have substantially accelerated their electrification, most of Sub Saharan Africa lacks behind and does not even keep up with population growth.
Every ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Country has its own Rural Electrification Program and has already took place for a long time ago. I.e. Kingdom of Cambodia, in 2006, approved the Rural Electrification by Renewable Energy Policy, to achieve 100% of villages have access to electricity services by 2020 and 70% of rural households have access to quality electricity services by 2030. The Lao has implemented in Phase 1 of the Rural Electrification (APL) Program, and will continue to be implemented throughout the second phase until 2012 by expanding the generation, transmission, distribution and off-grid development to increase the electrification ratio for the country from current level of about 70% to a target of above 90% by 2020. Or in Indonesia, the GOI has conduct several programs for their ambitious target of increasing electrification ratio to 90% of the total number of households by year 2020, which would require an average of 1.3 million new connections annually.
The implementation of its program and the amount of investments in the sector are therefore different in each ASEAN country. The choice of a specific energy technology used naturally depends on the targeted country and on whether it is a whole region, community, business, farm or household that is to benefit from the process. But this is not the only concern. Issues of customer and load density, relative distance to the national or regional grid, landscape, availability of natural resources such as wind, sun, water, forests, economic and financial aspects, availability and maturity of any chosen technology, all these factors influence the decision maker in his choice of the technology or technology mix. The pool of potential energy technologies for rural electrification programmes is quite large and each technology naturally varies in its generation technique, its costs, and in the quality of the service it delivers.
All of these programs generally involved national or regional grid extension, conventional system (i.e. diesel generators, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), disposable batteries, kerosene lamps, etc), renewable energies (including photovoltaic systems, wind energy, hydropower, and new wave energy and hydrogen), or hybrid systems.
As problems are far greater in National or regional grid extension and recognized the abundant resource of renewable energy in every country of ASEAN, there is a need on study focus the attention on renewable energy potential for the off grid electrification in rural and remote areas in the region.
Some of the ASEAN countries present the highest solar irradiations in the world, whereas others have already an important experience in Wind, Biomass or Hydro. That’s the whole paradox of this region: A substantial part of RE production is based here with state of the art manufacturing technology and high quality standards whereas on the other hand a large part of the rural population does not have access to electricity despite excellent natural conditions.
Another problem is the number of electrification rate is defined as the access electricity being provided to the areas, but not specifically to every household. So, in fact, although some countries have high electrification rate, but still lot of people and their households especially are not connected to the electricity although their area is already electrified, as the electricity only connected to public building or public facilitation. The electricity connection itself may vary by quantity (e.g., hours of availability in a day), quality (e.g., rated voltage and frequency), and use (e.g., light bulb to a wide range of end-uses).
However, many challenges and questions can be addressed with generally valid instruments and policy that already exist in the region. But in fact, this approach is not common knowledge among the ASEAN countries. A comprehensive data on program and potential resources, an increased exchange of know-how and experiences among the ASEAN countries and with other countries and partners which are not part of the ASEAN are therefore needed.
Beni Suryadi is a regional energy analyst and planner who work for ASEAN Centre for Energy, a Southeast Asia intergovernmental organization in energy cooperation, which based in Jakarta – Indonesia. He attended several international conferences and training including the first Energy Training Week from International Energy Agency, in Paris, 4-8 April 2011. Collaborated with statisticians ...
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