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Renewable energy can save Southeast Asia 2 trln usd in fuel costs - Greenpeace

Aug 23, 2007 - Thomson Financial - AFX News

SINGAPORE - Shifting to renewable energy could save Southeast Asian countries as much as two trillion US dollars in fuel costs over the next 23 years, or more than 80 billion dollars annually, environmental group Greenpeace said Thursday.

A shift from oil and coal could also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22 percent in the same period, it said in a report released to coincide with a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) energy ministers here.

Globally, investing in renewable energy -- geothermal, hydro, wind and solar power as well as biomass and biofuels -- would save countries 180 billion dollars a year and slash carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030, Greenpeace said.

Carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere has been blamed as a major contributor to climate change.

While upfront investment costs are higher for renewable energy, the long-term savings are greater, Greenpeace said.

However, Southeast Asian energy ministers and officials from China, Japan and South Korea who joined them later at a meeting in Singapore on Thursday indicated that shifting would not be easy.

In a joint communique issued after their one-day meeting, they said that with robust economic growth, the region's demand for oil 'will continue to increase, especially in the transportation sector.'

They also 'recognised that coal will play an important role in the regional energy supply,' in sharp contrast with Greenpeace's position calling for a moratorium on the building of new coal-fired plants.

They acknowledged efforts of some countries to explore the peaceful use of nuclear energy and encouraged dialogues to discuss more viable nuclear technologies.

Greenpeace had urged the ASEAN energy ministers to scrap plans to harness civilian nuclear energy and focus resources on developing renewable sources that are abundant in the region.

ASEAN members Indonesia and the Philippines have among them the biggest geothermal resources in the world, Greenpeace said.

ASEAN members have committed to increase the share of renewable energy in power generation to 10 percent by 2010.