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The Renewable Energy World Asia (REWA) Conference and Exhibition (hosted along with the Power-Gen Asia) opened today in Bangkok at the Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The registration area was fairly crowded this morning at this well attended 3 day (2-4 Oct) conference and exhibition organized by PennWell. With more than 150 exhibitors in the Poweria-Gen Asia and more than 30 exhibitors in the Renewable Energy World Asia, this event is certainly a buzz in Bangkok. We will talk more about the exhibitors in the Day-3 coverage as today's report is focused more on the conference.

The conference opened with a joint opening keynote session chaired by Nigel Blackaby, Conference Director atPenwell. The keynote speakers included prominent experts from Thailand viz, Dr. Twarath Sutabutr, Deputy Director-General at Thailand's Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE); Mr. Soonachai Humnoonsate, Governer of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand; and Dr. Piyasvasti Amranand, Chairman of Energy for Environment Foundation in Thailand. They were also joined by Mr. Markus Lorenzini, Head of Energy Sector of ASEAN-Pacific Cluster at PT Seimens Indonesia. These keynote speeches brought up highly relevant points such as power generation challenges in ASEAN countries and the growing attention and implementation of Renewables in the region.

The REWA conference then was split primarily in two tracks for the rest of the day to cover 6 interesting topics ranging from Solar Energy prominence in Asia to Bioenergy, rural electrification and policies influencing Asia's Renewable Energy Future.  It was noted by one of the speakers that with 100,000 GW of power capacity yet to be added, South Asia presents tremendous opportunities along with its own set of challenges. The rate of electrification in ASEAN countries is on an average 78.7%, ranging from 100% in Singapore to 26% in Myanmar, while electricity demand is rapidly rising in these countries (e.g. 12% per year in Myanmar). Various speakers covered the issues relevant for Renewable Energy in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. These issues range from inefficient use of Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) schemes for incentivising renewable generation to lack of capabilities, supportive policies and regulatory frameworkls to achieve sucessful implementation. 

There were also some though provoking debates held during some of the sessions such as how solar lanterns, solar home systems and rural mini-grids would pan out as methods for rural electrification. Rural mini-grids do have the advantages of providing a more productive electricity (e.g. for small businesses such as rice mills, carpenters) and flexibility in terms of main grid integration in the future. However the costs of min-grids are too high when compatred to solar home systems and that would need substantial focus on raising capital to create a compelling business model for all stakeholders including the villagers. Mr. Evan Scandling, head of communications at Sunlabob Renewable Energy in Laos, presented a very good perspective on use of renewable energy village grids for long term sustainable development in this region. Ms Palghat Balasankari, Executive Director of Renewable Cogen Asia in India, on the other hand shared the sucess story in implementation of 4 million solar home systems in Bangladesh.

Dr Tran Quang, Senior Clean Energy Specialist at Full Advantage Company in Thailand, later presented the key findings from the ASEAN Guideline on Off-Grid Rural Electrification Approaches, which is a very useful knowledge resource for policy makers and project implementers working in this part of the world.

It was very clear from the various discussions today that the Renewable Energy World in Asia is completely different from that in the U.S. and Europe. Its very much driven by lack of electrification, very high rate of growth in demand for power and decentralizing electricity to meet urgent electrification needs. While this is very logical, there are several challenges ranging from political will to lack of capabilities and knowledge and lack of consensus on the right approaches and technologies that will fit each scenario. The opportunities are nevertheless tremendous!

See also: Day-2 Overview

Recreated from original blog post authored by Nilesh Y. Jadhav at Solarika.org

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