Cheaper solar power gains ground in southeast Asia

Crew members pose beside solar panels on the top deck of the Race for Water catamaran, the world’s largest maritime vessel to be powered solely by renewable energies. The vessel docked at the public pier in Hong Kong’s Central district on Oct. 25 on a stopover as part of a five-year round-the-world expedition. (AFP)
Updated 01 November 2019

Cheaper solar power gains ground in southeast Asia

  • The region is striving to expand the share of renewable sources

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia is accelerating plans to harness energy from the sun in coming years as the cost of generating electricity from some solar power projects has become more affordable than gas-fired plants, officials and analysts said.

The region, where power demand is expected to double by 2040, is striving to expand the share of renewable sources as developing nations seek affordable electricity while battling climate change.

Southeast Asia’s cumulative solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity could nearly triple to 35.8 gigawatt (GW) in 2024 from an estimated 12.6 GW this year, consultancy Wood Mackenzie says.

Vietnam leads the pack with a cumulative solar PV installation of 5.5 GW by this year, or 44 percent of the total capacity in the region, said Rishab Shrestha, Woodmac’s power and renewables analyst. This compares with 134 MW last year.

Among the encouraging signs for the solar industry was a recent auction for a 500 megawatt (MW) solar project in Malaysia of which 365 MW were bid at a price lower than the country’s average gas-powered electricity, said Yeo Bee Yin, minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change.

“For the first time in the history of Malaysia we have a large-scale solar energy costs that is less than gas, Yeo said at the Singapore International Energy Week.

“We now finally have an alternative energy that is cheaper than gas to replace our peak energy demand at midday.”

Malaysia has set a target to increase its renewable energy in electricity generation from current 6 percemt to 20 percent by 2025, and a majority of this would be driven by solar.

The country also plans to open at least another 500 MW tender in the second quarter next year, Yeo said.

 

Peak demand

Singapore has also targeted at least 2 gigawatt (GW) peak of solar power capacity by 2030, or more than 10 percent of current peak electricity demand, potentially replacing natural gas which generates 95 percent of the country’s power now.

“This being presented by the (Singaporean) authorities is very interesting as this points toward firm political determination to go toward a low-carbon economy in a constrained world,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Keisuke Sadamori, the International Energy Agency (IEA) director for energy markets and security said: “There needs to be some good measures to ensure that investors feel confident that their money could be returned in a relatively reasonable period.”

Still, the mushrooming of solar PV in Vietnam has exceeded its grid capacity by 18 percent, Woodmac’s Shrestha said, underscoring the need for further investments across power sector.

“The approved capacity for the Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces amounts to 5 GW, more than double the grid usable capacity,” he said.


Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

Updated 15 November 2019

Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

  • Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade
  • Alibaba Chief Executive Officer said the group wanted to participate in Hong Kong’s future

HONG KONG: Chinese technology giant Alibaba on Friday confirmed plans to list in Hong Kong in what it called a $13 billion vote of confidence in the turbulent city’s markets and a step forward in its plans to go global.
The enormous IPO, which Hong Kong had lobbied for, will come as a boost for authorities wrestling with pro-democracy protests that have tarnished the financial hub’s image for order and security and hammered its stock market.
Alibaba will offer 500 million shares at a maximum of HK$188 apiece to retail investors, the company said. The number eight is considered auspicious in China.
Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade after insurance giant AIA raised $20.5 billion in 2010.
Alibaba had planned to list in the summer but called it off owing to the city’s long-running pro-democracy protests and the China-US trade war. The US and China are now working on sealing a partial trade deal.
Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Chief Executive Officer, said the group wanted to “contribute, in our small way, and participate in the future of Hong Kong.”
“During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright,” he said.
The firm’s shares are already traded in New York. A second listing in Hong Kong is expected to curry favor with Beijing, which has sought to encourage its current and future big tech firms to list nearer to home after the loss of companies such as Baidu to Wall Street.
In the statement, Zhang said that when Alibaba went public in 2014 it “missed out on Hong Kong with regret.”
Mainland authorities have also stepped up moves to attract such listings, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July.
The listing comes after the city’s exchange tweaked the rules to allow double listings, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam had also been pushing Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma to sell shares in the city.
“The listing in Hong Kong will allow more of the company’s users and stakeholders in the Alibaba digital economy across Asia to invest and participate in Alibaba’s growth,” the company said.
It has long been expected to launch a multibillion-dollar stock listing in Hong Kong but appeared to postpone the offering because of political and economic turmoil.
Hong Kong’s key Hang Seng Index rose 0.48 percent in morning trading following the announcement
Chinese shoppers set new records for spending on Monday’s annual 24-hour “Singles’ Day” buying spree, despite an economic slowdown in the country and the worries over the US trade war.
It said consumers spent $38.3 billion on its platforms over that stretch, up 26 percent from the previous all-time high mark set last year.
Alibaba also said it saw record amounts of cross-border sales, underlining its plans to expand globally.
“Globalization is the future of Alibaba Group. We firmly believe the marriage of digital technology and commerce will bring about unprecedented change that will not be limited by borders,” Zhang said.