This story was originally published on The Independent with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.

Five of the top 10 economies with solar capacity are now within Asia, report notes

Solar power generation allowed seven Asian countries to avoid spending billions of dollars on fossil fuel costs in the first half of 2022 alone, according to a recent report.

The report jointly developed by energy think-tank Ember and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) stated that seven key Asian countries, including ChinaIndia, and Japan, avoided potential fossil fuel costs of approximately $34bn from January to June 2022.

This is equivalent to nine per cent of total fossil fuel costs during this period.

The seven countries are China, India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

The report also analysed the growth of solar power over the last decade, finding that five of the top ten economies with solar capacity are now

A decade ago, only two countries in Asia made it to the list, while European countries dominated the top of the global solar capacity ranking. Since then, India, Vietnam and South Korea have joined the top ten.

In India, solar generation avoided $4.2bn in fuel costs in the first half of the year. It also avoided the need for 19.4 million tonnes of coal that would have further stressed an already strained domestic supply.

While China, which began the decade with only 1GW of solar power in 2010, has increased this capacity to 307GW by the end of 2021, including a record installation of 53GW of new solar power that year.

In 2022, China is expected to smash last year’s record, and it could add between 75 and 90GW of new solar capacity to the grid.

If that happens, this single year roll out would come close to matching the total existing solar capacity across the US, 1.5 times that of Germany, and over four times that of Australia.

“Asian countries have shown that rapid solar deployment is possible, setting a remarkable example and providing valuable lessons learned for their peers in the region,” Dr Achmed Shahram Edianto, electricity analyst at Ember, Asia, said.

“As the prices of solar and storage plummet, and the potential cost savings have started to materialise, solar dominance in Asia now looks to come much sooner than previously expected.”

A shift to solar energy, a clean renewable source, is crucial for reduction of harmful planet-warming greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels such as coal. Asia accounts for almost half of the global energy demand due to its large area and population size. Hence it is also the world’s highest emitting region.

But the report noted that solar power in Asia has the potential to grow rapidly over the next decade. According to existing national targets across the five major economies, it is expected that the solar capacity across the region can grow at an average of 22 per cent per year until 2030.

This will require tailored national policy innovation, investments in energy storage and flexibility, and collective economic and technological cooperation on a grand scale.

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