Asia, being a large economy, is an important engine in driving world economic growth. Most Asian countries are developing countries with potential. Asian countries have abundant natural resources and highly complement with each other. However, Asia still faces challenges such as economic disparity, energy security, largest carbon emissions and climate change. Sustainable development of Asia calls for the insistence on green and low-carbon development concepts, integration of development and transition, coordination of the goals and aspirations from all Asian countries. Asia should push for an overall balanced development of its economy based on abundant clean energy and mineral resources, and promoting the transition of upgrading to green and low-carbon energy. Regional integration and cooperation should be deepened in response to climate change, for the grand purpose of economic prosperity, social progress and ecological protection.
To achieve sustainable development in Asia, the key is to promote large-scale development and utilization of hydro, wind and solar energy resources under a wide-range complementation, to strengthen energy infrastructure upgrade and interconnection, and to build the Asian Energy Interconnection. Accelerating the exploitation of hydro, solar and wind energy resources in the various areas in Asia will ensure a sustainable supply of energy through clean development and promote the transition to green and low-carbon energy. The technological innovation and enhanced efficiency will rapidly increase the proportion of electricity in final energy consumption and will effectively address climate change and environmental pollution. It is expected that Co-development Model of “Electricity, Mining, Metallurgy, Manufacturing and Trade” could be used to facilitate the transition of energy development and industrial development mode. The integration of Asia power sector will be speeded through energy and power interconnection, which will help to stimulate the vigor of regional development, and realize a balanced and sustainable development in Asia.
The demand for energy and power in Asia will increase significantly, and the energy structure will transform towards a clean and low carbon one rapidly. Electricity will become the leading source of energy consumption. There is a high and continuing demand for Asia’s energy and power following its population growth and development. In 2050, the total primary energy demand of Asia will be 14.93 billion tonnes of coal equivalent (tce), 1.6 times of that in 2016. The total final energy consumption will increase to 8.92 billion tce. In 2050, the electricity consumption will be 36.3 PWh, 3.3times of that in 2016. Clean energy will replace fossil fuel as the dominant energy in Asia before 2040. Clean energy consumption will increase to 9.69 billion tce in 2050. Electricity will replace oil as the most important type of final energy consumption around 2030 in Asia. The proportion of electricity in final energy consumption will increase to 55% in 2050.
The power supply capacity in Asia will continuously increase. With the accelerated development of large-scale clean energy bases, clean energy will rapidly replace fossil energy as the dominant power source. It will alleviate energy poverty and ensure clean, green, economic and safe power supply. Under the current clean and green development, Asia’s energy supply has rapidly transformed, reaching 15.75 TW of power by 2050, 5 times higher than that in 2016. With the increased capacity in power supply, virtually everyone in Asia will have access to electricity. Clean energy capacity will increase substantially. By 2035, the installed capacity of clean energy will surpass fossil power supply to become dominant power source. By 2050, the proportion of clean energy installed capacity in Asia will increase to 84%, and the proportion of clean energy power generation will increase to 80%. Clean energy development will focus on both centralized and distributed. Clean energy bases will be in areas with high quality resources and favorable development conditions, with more than 100 large-scale clean energy bases constructed. The total capacity will be about 5.4 TW, in which the capacity of hydropower bases in major river basins will be about 640 GW. Also, 61 solar energy bases and 62 wind power bases will be built with a capacity of 3.4 TW and 1.4 TW, respectively.
Clean energy resources and load centers are inversely distributed. The overall pattern of power flow in Asia will be “from west to east, and from north to south”. Central and West Asia are the main clean energy bases. Asia’s population is located mainly along the Pacific coast and the Indian Ocean coast. East, Southeast and South Asia are the main load centers. The best clean energy resources are generally far from load centers. Thus, the overall pattern of power flow of Asia will be “from west to east, and from north to south”. Asia will be interconnected with Europe and Africa by 2035 and Oceania by 2050. In 2035 and 2050, the inter-continent and inter-region power flow will reach 94.3 GW and 200 GW, respectively, among which the inter-continent power flow will be 23 GW and 51 GW, respectively.
Five regional power grids in Asia will be closely interconnected to form a green, low-carbon, electricity-centered, secure, economical and technologically advanced clean energy optimal allocation platform. Taking advantages of Ultra High Voltage (UHV) technology, the power grid of Asia will consist of five strongly connected regional power grids of East Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia and inter-continentally connect Europe, Africa and Oceania. Five regional power grids in Asia will be closely interconnected to form a “Four Horizontal and Three Vertical” network. The “Four Horizontal Channels” are the north and south horizontal channels in Eurasia, as well as the north and south horizontal channels in Asia and Africa. The “Three Vertical Channels” are the east, central and west vertical channels in Asia. In East Asia, actions will be taken to gradually form 1000/765/500 kV AC backbone grids. In Southeast Asia, Indo-China Peninsula will upgrade and construct 1000 kV AC power grids. The Malay Archipelago will maintain its structure of three regional AC grids in the western, central and eastern areas. The five Central Asia countries will form an AC synchronous power grid of 1000/500 kV. A 765/400 kV synchronous power grid will be constructed in South Asia. In West Asia, 1000/765/500/400 kV AC backbone grids will be built.
By 2050, 8 inter-continental and 21 inter-regional key interconnection projects will be built to support the large-scale and long-distance transmission of clean energy, as well as large-scale consumption and complementation. For inter-continental, four ±800 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 32 GW will be built to connect Asia and Europe. Three ±500 ‒ ±660 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 11 GW will be built to connect Asia and Africa. One ±800 kV DC project with transmission capacity of 8 GW will be built to connect Asia and Oceania. For inter-regional interconnection, three ±800 kV, one ±660 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 28 GW will be built to connect West and South Asia. One ±800 kV DC project with transmission capacity of 8 GW will be built to connect Central and East Asia. One ±500 kV DC project with transmission capacity of 1.3 GW will be built to connect Central and South Asia. Three ±800 kV, one ±660 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 28 GW will be built to connect East and South Asia. One ±800 kV, two ±660 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 16 GW will be built to connect East and Southeast Asia. One ±800 kV, one ±660 kV DC projects with transmission capacity of 12 GW will be built to connect Southeast and South Asia. Five ±800 kV, one ±500 kV DC projectswith transmission capacity of 42 GW will be built to connect Russian Far East and East Asia.
Building Asian Energy Interconnection will achieve remarkable comprehensive benefits. In terms of economic benefits, by 2050, total investment in Asian Energy Interconnection will be about 18.7 trillion USD, which will vigorously promote development of clean energy, power and high-tech manufacturing industries and contribute an average economic growth of 1.4%. In terms of social benefits, by 2050, 150 million jobs will be created and energy supply costs will be reduced. Environment-friendly, clean, affordable and reliable electricity supply will be accessible to all. In terms of environmental benefits, it will effectively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in energy system reduced to about 6.2 billion tonnes per year by 2050, and effectively reduce climate-related disasters. Air pollutant emission will be reduced by 30 million tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2), 34 million tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 6.5 million tonnes of fine particulate matters per year by 2050. The value of land resources will be increased by 86 billion USD by 2050. In terms of political benefits, through the construction of Asian Energy Interconnection, relevant countries will be able to share clean energy and power, realizing inter-continental and cross-border transactions, and to strengthen political mutual trust. This will create a new pattern of energy governance in Asia which is cooperative, open, mutually beneficial and win-win, promoting peaceful development. It will accelerate regional integration process, strengthen partnership of all countries, and provide an inclusive and open platform for cooperation among Asian countries.
Aimed at achieving 1.5℃ temperature control target, Asia needs to further reduce carbon emissions, accelerate economic and social development, and continuously improve the level of cleaning and electrification. Compared to 2°C temperature control target, the demand of fossil energy in primary energy will be reduced by 41% while the proportion of clean energy development will be increased, with the capacity of clean energy increased by 34% in 2050. The replacement of electric energy will be accelerated and the proportion of electricity in final energy consumption will increase by about 13 percentage points in 2050. Interconnection of power grids will be strengthened to enhance the capacity of resource allocation. Inter-continents power flow will increase by about 47 GW. Investment in clean energy development and power grid constructions will increase by 23% in 2050.