Solar-plus-storage investors gain upperhand in Southeast Asia

Will early solar-plus-storage investors gain upper hand in Southeast Asia?

Panelists at the Solar and Off-Grid Renewables Southeast Asia event in Bangkok this year could not agree whether solar-plus-storage was already an economically viable solution. The consensus on the future outlook, however, is much sunnier.

With frequent brown outs in the region, there is a strong demand for the reliability that solar-plus-storage provides. The Southeast Asian market, however, is not without its challenges. The regulatory environment is not currently friendly to solar-plus-storage and lags far behind advances in the emerging technology.

The lack of a regulated market increases challenges but also offers opportunities. Solar Philippines took a risk by commissioning a large scale solar project without gaining approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission — but achieved a tariff of <6 US cents per unit (<5 Euro cents per unit).

Additionally, there is poor understanding of how energy storage works when connecting to grid networks, and a lack of system integrators in the region. Due to this, accurate economic models of the Southeast Asian region are hard to come by. Another issue causing investors to baulk is the lack of energy storage projects with demonstrated functionality in the region.

The panelists did not reach a consensus on the current viability of energy storage with solar in the market. However, there was general agreement that early investors willing to take daring risks would gain a strong advantage as cost curves for solar-plus-storage move faster than anticipated.

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