Investing in Clean Energy Can Speed Up COVID-19 Recovery

Date Published
December 01, 2020
Southeast Asia is rich in natural gas, hydropower, solar, bio-mass, wind, and geothermal energy. Photo credit: Asian Development Bank.

Prioritizing investments in renewable energy can help boost Southeast Asian economies toward faster recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis. A recent report from Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) estimates that the ASEAN target of investing $27 billion a year to achieve a 23% share for renewables in the energy mix by 2025 can add $25 billion to the annual gross domestic product (GDP).

SEforALL, an organization that works toward the achievement of affordable and clean energy (Sustainable Development Goal No. 7), released a Recover Better with Sustainable Energy Guide for Southeast Asian Nations in October, which provides a strategy for including sustainable energy investments in recovery plans to "create jobs, drive economic growth, and increase resilience."

“If achieved, the current renewable energy policies and targets in Southeast Asia can generate 1.7 million jobs by 2030,” says SEforALL in an article. “Globally, for every $10 million invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, it is estimated 2 to 2.5 times more jobs are created than investing the same amount into the fossil fuel industry.” Citing the ASEAN Centre for Energy, it notes that the installed capacity for renewables has grown by threefold in the last 15 years.

The group also sees this as an opportunity for Southeast Asia to become a global sustainable energy hub and to develop regional upstream and downstream manufacturing value chains.

The guide, which is part of SEforALL’s Recover Better series, recommends three policy measures as part of Southeast Asia’s recovery plan.

First is to improve energy efficiency as a quick and low-cost way of jumpstarting businesses and the economy as well as a means of achieving climate change goals.

Second is to enhance policy and regulatory frameworks to support off-grid and on-grid renewable energy and increased regional cooperation on energy.

Third is to develop human resources for the new jobs that will be generated by investments in clean energy.