This Phillip Riley research series is an investigation into the renewable energy policies of Australia, the United States and various Asia Pacific nations. The reports look into the countries’ renewable energy potential, climate change targets and the success of their policy to date. This report focuses on the current and future use of renewable energy of all countries within the research series and takes into account the political, geographical and economic challenges unique to each nation.
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Located in East Asia, South Korea has had difficulties increasing their renewable energy production and generation. Stemming from a lack of resources, South Korea is a major importer of natural gas, oil and coal. Of the energy that is produced domestically, nuclear power plays a key role, with future plans to expand in this area. Despite a history of implementing reduction measures, greenhouse gas emissions in South Korea have been steadily rising. This rise in emissions has been complemented by a delay in the installation of renewable energy technologies, which currently only account for 2% of energy generation.
Nuclear power also plays a significant role (30%) in South Korea’s domestic energy generation. Concerns following the Japanese Fukushima disaster resulted in the use of nuclear power being scaled back. This was further supported following problems in South Korea surrounding false safety certifications of nuclear parts in 2012. Despite these concerns surrounding nuclear power, the Korean Government has unveiled plans to expand on this fuel type. South Korea hopes to continue to build a strong nuclear industry with high levels of availability and reliability. Currently, under the Second National Energy Master Plan, South Korea aims to become a nuclear power plant export powerhouse by 2020.
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Singapore is different to all the other countries we have reported about so far and the measures it is taking to combat climate change are subsequently also very different. The combination of extremely limited resource availability and a dense island population mean that cleaning up the energy mix and reducing carbon emissions is a real challenge for Singapore. It has no fossil fuel resources and very little opportunity to use renewables but emissions-reducing measures do need to be implemented as it is host to several emissions-intensive industries.
The government of Singapore has set out a four part plan to meet it emissions reduction targets – called the Climate Action Plan. Energy efficiency is often seen as the “low hanging fruit” in emissions reduction measures but for Singapore, with its limited renewable energy options, it is the backbone of their Climate Action Plan. Other parts of the plan include reducing emissions from electricity generation, building up the nation’s alternative energy technology market and encouraging collective action. Solar is likely the only renewable technology type that will play a major role in Singapore’s power sector but they are attracting a lot of clean energy companes to the region with their cutting-edge research (e.g. floating solar PV farms, microgrid interconnection, integrating solar into urban environments) and supportive policy environment for alternative energy development.
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Taiwan has limited fossil fuel reserves and as a result imports almost all of their energy supply. This imported energy supply makes up 98% Taiwan’s total energy and is highly dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, there have been a number of challenges when attempting to increase the proportion of renewable energy within their energy mix. Taiwan’s energy supply, including imports, consists mainly of oil (48%), coal (29%) and natural gas (13%). Of the energy that is produced domestically, biomass contributes the largest amount, accounting for 1.38% of the total energy supply.
Biomass is the main source of energy produced in Taiwan. Of the 2% of domestically produced energy, just over half of this comes from biomass. Biomass has likely been successfully implemented due to Taiwan’s large agriculture sector. However, Taiwan may face difficulties when attempting to further increase the amount of renewable energy within the system. Pairing intermittent renewable energy with imported fossil fuels (mainly oil and coal) will reduce the energy security within the system. This will place Taiwan at a higher risk of blackouts.
In order for Taiwan to continue to increase their renewable energy production, a restructuring of the energy system must occur.
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As one of the largest countries in the world with the biggest population, China faces unique challenges in its energy sector. With more than 1.3 billion residents, the effects of global warming have the potential to affect millions and millions of its people, so climate change is undeniably of great concern to China. Because of the vast quantities of coal consumed by the country, China is also the world’s largest emitter of energy-related CO2 emissions. The use of coal for electricity generation is not only responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, it is also responsible for a significant amount of China‘s air pollution.
Changing to a cleaner energy supply is a key part of China’s plans to tackle climate change and the Chinese government is actively promoting renewables as an important part of transitioning to a low carbon economy. In 2013, China installed more renewable energy capacity than all of Europe and the Asia Pacific region and it is still increasing. China’s 13th Five Year Plan for energy was released recently and it outlines specific targets for energy consumption and energy resource use including increasing the percentage of non-fossil energy consumption to at least 15% of total consumption and reducing the share of coal to 58%. This is a big transition for historically coal-dependent China but it has stepped up and made impressive changes already. There are going to be a large number of clean energy projects coming online in the next four years and we will see unprecedented growth in related jobs.
To continue to read the full China report as part of our Research Series “The Future is Renewable: Targets and Policies by Country”, please click “Read More”.Read More