Asian Economic Growth Concerns Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently released its Asian Development Outlook report and suggests the massive region will be consuming more than half the world’s energy supply by 2035.
In 2010 Asia consumed around 34 percent of the world’s energy supply and, in the same year, accounted for 28 percent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2013, Asia is estimated to account for 44 percent of world GDP, a massive leap in just three years.
Of course, much of this Asian growth has been led by China, which is now ranked as the second-largest economy in the world, behind the United States. Equally, while Japan has been stagnant for much of the last decade or more, it still remains a powerful economy in world terms.
The ADB report notes the Asian region will need a massive increase in energy supply for the rest of this century, with oil consumption set to double in just the next 20 years or so.
The region lacks sufficient oil reserves of its own and relies heavily on the Middle East for energy supplies. The ADB notes that not only will oil consumption double in the next 20 years, the use of natural gas is expected to triple, and coal use will grow by a whopping 81 percent.
So how does this filter down and effect Thailand? According to the ADB’s country director Craig Steffensen, energy security for Thailand and ASEAN has become a key issue. He noted that demand had exceeded forecasts, which put added pressure to find alternative and viable energy sources. Naturally, political concerns and regulatory barriers impeded a smooth and transparent process, even within the ASEAN community.
As a prime example of mutual dependence, Thailand had suffered a disruption of 1.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas supply from Myanmar due to repairs being undertaken on the Yadana gas field.
Given a general reluctance to embrace nuclear technology, especially following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, the ADB said other alternatives such as solar and wind power, hydro and biofuels needed to be seriously considered.
The ADB also notes the need for the countries sharing the Mekong River in what is known as the Greater Mekong Subregion need to come to a series of agreements on sharing its facilities. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and China all have a stake in ensuring the Mekong is utilised in the best and most equitable fashion possible for energy production.
Unfortunately, political difficulties unrelated to the Mekong itself had the potential to derail or seriously disrupt potentially mutually beneficial agreements on exploiting the Mekong’s resources.