Solar and pumped hydro power revolutionizing Southeast Asia’s energy grid.

By Oliver Townsend May 25, 2024
Decarbonising Southeast Asia through solar and pumped hydro.jpegOrginal image from:

Decarbonising Southeast Asia through solar and pumped hydro is a crucial step towards achieving clean and sustainable energy in the region. With the increasing affordability of solar technology and the growing population in Southeast Asia, the potential for a significant energy transformation is evident. By addressing solar anxieties and removing market barriers, the region can embrace cheap, clean, and reliable solar energy, complemented by off-river pumped hydro energy storage systems.

The Rise of Solar and Wind Power

With around 84 per cent of new global electricity generation capacity coming from solar and wind power in 2023, the momentum for renewable energy sources is undeniable. Solar and wind technologies continue to decrease in price, making them more accessible and attractive for countries looking to transition to cleaner energy sources. The sunbelt region, where three-quarters of the global population resides, offers excellent solar resources year-round, making it a prime location for solar energy development.

The Energy Transition in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is experiencing rapid growth in population, energy consumption, and emissions, creating a pressing need for a shift towards sustainable energy sources. As electricity demand in the region is expected to increase significantly, policymakers are exploring various technologies to decarbonize the energy system. While nuclear power, bioenergy, and other sources have been considered, solar and wind technologies are leading the way due to their rapid deployment rates and cost-effectiveness.

The Potential of Solar Photovoltaic Technology

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology stands out as the cheapest form of new electricity generation, offering unlimited deployment potential throughout the sunbelt region. Countries like Australia have demonstrated the viability of solar and wind energy in decarbonizing their energy systems and reducing emissions. However, in Southeast Asia, concerns about solar costs and grid reliability persist, hindering the full-scale adoption of solar energy.

Unlocking Solar Potential in Malaysia

Malaysia serves as a case study for leveraging solar energy to decarbonize the energy system and drive economic growth. Energy balance modeling indicates that substantial gigawatts of solar capacity could transform Malaysia’s energy landscape, creating opportunities for solar manufacturing and installer markets to flourish. By integrating solar PV across various landscapes and exploring offshore floating solar options, Malaysia can harness its solar potential effectively.

Leveraging Off-River Pumped Hydro Energy Storage

Off-river pumped hydro energy storage offers a promising solution for storing excess solar energy and ensuring grid reliability. Southeast Asia’s access to vast off-river pumped hydro potential presents an opportunity to support the decarbonization of the energy system. With its low environmental impact and cost-effective storage capabilities, pumped hydro technology can play a crucial role in balancing solar energy generation in the region.


Decarbonizing Southeast Asia through solar and pumped hydro technologies is a vital step towards achieving sustainable and reliable energy systems in the region. By embracing solar energy, addressing solar anxieties, and leveraging off-river pumped hydro storage, Southeast Asia can transition towards a cleaner and more resilient energy future. Policymakers, industry leaders, and communities must work together to unlock the full potential of solar and pumped hydro technologies for a greener Southeast Asia.

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