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Asian Cleantech and Smart Grid sectors continue to gain momentum

The Power and Electricity World Asia 2013, a conference recently held in Singapore, is an excellent barometer for what is happening in the electricity and utility sector in Asia. The conference has dedicated streams on a wide variety of topics from cleantech investment to smart grids and from traditional power generation to renewables.

The key message of the show was that of strong demand growth for energy. Specifically, electricity demand is expected to rise by about 6-8% across most of the region. Much of this demand will be met by traditional generation technologies; however renewables are securing an increasing portion of the growth.

This is driven by connection in areas where there are particular benefits to using renewables such as island countries (e.g. Philippines and Indonesia) and areas where grid connections would increase costs; as well as changing attitudes from regulators and utilities. These attitude changes come from a variety of sources such as consumer reaction to the much publicised pollution cases in Asian mega cities such as Beijing, as well as government policies, which, for example seek to reduce costs associated with the importation of fossil fuels.

IBM Growth Markets Leader in Energy and Utilities Jeff Lee provided some insights as to the emerging trends in utilities.

On the network side the “observability of the network” – the ability to access and visualize the real time status of the network, is the biggest emerging trend , this is in some cases enabled by A.M.I. implementations and in some cases by using updated Scada and E.M.S. systems together with additional connected sensors on the network.

On the generation side Mr. Lee sees interesting developments in P.V. micro-grids and off-shore wind, driven largely by policy changes across the region, the result of a variety of drivers. Highlighting this are Japan, Taiwan and China’s dramatic increase in their renewable targets. This has happened in conjunction with an acceleration of capacity additions as well as demand management and energy efficiency initiatives.

The utility companies are not the only players very active in the sector with a wide range of investors and financial organizations very visible at the show and showing significant investment interest in these emerging sectors.

The growing momentum in the sector was further highlighted by the strong presence by both Hong Kong and Singapore innovation development agencies. Although the sectors are not currently as developed and prominent in Asia as they are in say Europe and the U.S., the growth and increasing momentum is noticeable, and it is quite possible to imagine Asia leading these sectors in a few years’ time.

Sacha Meckler is an innovation and technology thought leader, with experience working across multiple continents and industry sectors. His focus over the last five years has been on clean-tech and smart grids.



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