Scaling up biomass: focus on Southeast Asia



As one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of gross domestic product
(GDP), population, and demand for both food and energy, Southeast Asia has a strong
need to decarbonise its economies and modernise its energy systems. In 2018, around 75%
of primary energy demand in the region was met by fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.
Many key economic activities depend on fossil fuels for heat, which makes substitution
with established forms of renewable energy such as hydro, solar or wind challenging.
Bioenergy is the most versatile form of renewable energy derived from forestry and
agricultural products including residues and wastes.
IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050 (IRENA, 2020a)
reported that bioenergy could become the largest energy source in the total energy
mix in Southeast Asia, accounting for over 40% of total primary energy supply (TPES)
in 2050 under its Transforming Energy Scenario (TES), which is consistent with the Paris
Agreement’s goal of restricting global temperature rises to well below 2°C. In this scenario,
the majority of the biomass would be used in the industry (40% of total bioenergy supply)
and transport sectors (37% of total bioenergy supply).
This report investigates the potential for bioenergy to economically replace a portion
of fossil fuel use in the energy markets of five Southeast Asian countries. It outlines
the need for a robust bioenergy transformation plan to reduce dependency on fossil
fuels, strengthen national resilience and enhance energy security. The key barriers and
interventions identified in this study may therefore serve as a guide for the policy actions
required to develop such a plan.



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