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A Case for Distributed Power Systems in Southeast Asia

The observed inadequacy in the region’s current electricity infrastructure have prompted Southeast Asian countries to find power solutions in various forms of distributed power generation

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An Analysis of the Distributed Power Systems in Southeast Asia.

Rapid economic development, a continuous growth in population, and increased domestic and foreign investments across key industries have all contributed to the remarkable increase in Southeast Asia’s power consumption in recent years. The region’s power demand has risen by 2.5 times in the past 20 years, and by 2040, Southeast Asia’s electricity requirements is likely to triple, for which an additional power generation capacity of approximately 400 GW is said to be required.

Distributed Power System in Southeast Asia (Photo credit: Flickr)

In the interest of maintaining a healthy economy and attracting further foreign investment and activities, countries in Southeast Asia have ramped up their spending in infrastructure, including in roads, railways, and residential and commercial facilities. This, among other factors, has caused the region’s power demand to exponentially expand. And while Southeast Asian governments and allied stakeholders are also funding the building of new or the refurbishment of existing power facilities to support long-term electricity requirements, the current shortage in power supply within the region, not helped by constrained transmission and distribution facilities, is making it challenging to satisfy the immediate electricity demand.

The observed inadequacy in the current power infrastructure, delays in the construction of permanent power generation facilities, and the heightened need to fulfill the region’s immediate power requirements have prompted Southeast Asian countries to find solutions in distributed power generation.

Distributed Power Generation in Southeast Asia

According to global research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, the overall installed capacity of the distributed power generation market in Southeast Asia is in the area of 20,450 MW in 2015, which can scale up to 34,747 MW by 2020.

Distributed Power System in Southeast Asia (Photo credit: Flickr)

Among the countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are considered to be high-potential territories for distributed power based on market potential and available resources. For instance, in the Philippines and Indonesia, distributed power generation facilities can rapidly bring power to provinces that are currently not connected to the countries’ national grids due to isolation and remoteness. While in Myanmar, distributed power generation systems can provide electricity to smaller load centers, considering that the country’s overall electrification rate is only 26% and the transmission line losses stands at 25%.

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Moreover, more than 60% of the land in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam are greatly suitable for large-scale solar farms, with substantial irradiance levels between 1,200 kWh/m2/year and 2,000 kWh/m2/year. Overall, Southeast Asia is touted to have an annual global horizontal irradiance ranging from 1,200 kWh/m2 to 1,800 kWh/m2, making the region highly ideal for developing solar power plants.

Key Types of Distributed Power Systems Installed in Southeast Asia

The key types of distributed power facilities installed in the region include biomass and waste-to-power, solar photovoltaic, and diesel/HFO/gas temporary rental power plants. Hybrid power plants and micro-grid systems are reportedly also being developed.

Distributed Power System in Southeast Asia (Photo credit: Flickr)

Biomass and waste-to-power plants are ideal to supply the captive power needs of small- and medium-scale industries. This type of distributed power system enjoys wide government support across Southeast Asia, and benefits from abundant biomass resources, particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Solar PV facilities, on the other hand, are gaining ground across the region, thanks to policy support and incentives. Thailand is at the forefront of the solar PV market in Southeast Asia, with an estimated capacity additions of approximately one GW in 2015 alone.

Temporary power plants running on diesel or HFO still dominate the rental power segment in Southeast Asia, owing to significant cost-savings, rapid installation, wide availability of fuel, and inherent flexibility of use. Temporary power plants running on gas are also gaining popularity in the region, in recognition of their cost and environmental benefits.

Distributed Power System in Southeast Asia (Photo credit: Flickr)

By going for the rental power option, one avoids the need for a significant upfront investment, and the long lead times associated with the construction of permanent power generation facilities.

Industry studies conducted across Southeast Asia reveal that a permanent centralized power plant may take around five to ten years to become fully operational due to the obstacles created by environmental laws in the region and land acquisition requirements, compounded by overall construction delays. While waiting for the power plants to be constructed and activated, power companies in Southeast Asia, the likes of Meralco and the National Power Corporation in the Philippines, or the Perusahaan Listrik Negara in Indonesia and the Vietnam Electricity Company, will find numerous benefits in setting up temporary rental power plants to meet the immediate power demands of their countries.

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Distributed Power System in Southeast Asia (Photo credit: Altaaqa Global Caterpillar Rental Power)

Temporary power plants are also scalable, in that its output can be tailored to the existing electricity demand of a community, a city or a province. They can also be installed even in areas with limited power infrastructure, say where substations are absent, because they can be directly connected to the grid having been equipped with the latest protection systems and advanced transformation and switching equipment.

When the permanent power plants are completed, the rental power plants can be easily and completely demobilized, thus leaving no power facility not used or that will require further maintenance and servicing.

For more information on temporary power plants on diesel, gas or bi-fuel, click here.

The Growth of Distributed Power in Southeast Asia

As Southeast Asian economies continue to grow in the coming years, the region’s demand for electricity will proportionally increase. While the region’s governments are implementing long-term programs to respond to future power needs, power utilities in Southeast Asia, including Tenaga Nasional in Malaysia or the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, can take advantage of the availability of distributed power generation systems, like temporary power plants. Distributed power facilities can help overcome topographical challenges in delivering power, circumvent power transmission and distribution limitations, and boost the electrification rates of various countries in Southeast Asia.


This article is sponsored by Altaaqa Global Caterpillar Rental Power

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