TOKYO: Japanese companies aim to install solar panels on rooftops in Southeast Asia, anticipating demand for stable green energy sources in a region that has long relied heavily on fossil fuels.
Tokyo Electric Power Holdings will set up solar panels generating about 3,800 kilowatts at an industrial park of a Thai company that makes hard disk drives. The project will be conducted by Tepco’s joint venture with local renewable energy provider Constant Energy.
The joint venture will shoulder the costs of installation and maintenance, with the investment to be recouped by selling the generated power to businesses.
Tepco hopes to sign up Japanese companies in Thailand as clients and intends to eventually make inroads into other nearby markets such as Vietnam and Malaysia. It will tap expertise gained from its rooftop solar panel business in Japan.
Japanese oil distributor Eneos formed a solar power partnership with France’s TotalEnergies in April. They plan to move into nine markets, including Japan, India and nations in Southeast Asia. By installing solar panels on the roofs of factories and stores, they aim to reach a capacity of two million kW, or the equivalent of two nuclear reactors, by 2027.
Eneos envisions solar panels being set up on the factory roofs of Japanese automakers to which it supplies lubricants. It will consider installing storage batteries as well to make possible the use of renewable energy at night.
Shizen Energy, a renewable energy company based in Fukuoka, entered a capital partnership with the Kyushu Electric Power group through a subsidiary in May. Having experience developing renewable energy supplies in Vietnam, Shizen Energy hopes to expand by tapping Kyushu Electric’s connections with Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises.
Idemitsu Kosan said this month that it had invested in a Singaporean solar power company. The Japanese oil distributor hopes to expand the solar power business in Singapore as well as such markets as Malaysia and the Philippines.
Behind this rooftop solar panel push by Japanese energy companies in Southeast Asia is a lack of renewable energy supplies in the region.
In Japan, for example, companies seeking to use less carbon-based energy can purchase government-backed green power certificates that allow them to treat the power they consume as coming from renewable sources. And businesses that run renewable energy projects can supply that power to group facilities via transmission lines owned by major utilities.
But most Southeast Asian nations do not have such mechanisms, which is one of the reasons renewable energy has not caught on. Renewable energy made up 23% of the total in Southeast Asia compared with the global average of 28.4% in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.
Since Southeast Asian companies have had no choice but to rely on power generated from burning coal and other fossil fuels, tapping their own renewable energy sources is the shortest path to weaning themselves off carbon.