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Why the West should devise a strategy for clean energy in order to meet the needs the Indo-Pacific Region
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Why the West should devise a strategy for clean energy in order to meet the needs the Indo-Pacific Region

A yellow robotic arm assembles a solar photovoltaic panel


The Indo-Pacific region includes 24 countries and stretches from Australia and Japan to India and the U.S. west coast to India. It is home to the largest concentration of humankind and the highest source of biodiversity. global emissions. The region produced a record amount of food in 2020. 16.75 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the consumption of oil, gas and coal — more than all other regions worldwide combined.

Global efforts to reduce global warming below 2 C are only possible if the region is free from coal and other fossil-fuels. However, India, China, and Scotland were the only countries that proposed to abandon coal at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. countries agree to “phase down” coal instead of “phase out.”

Insufficient financing and the need to increase total energy availability — especially as more sectors become electrified — remain among the structural challenges to energy transitions around the world. China is in a better place than the West to aid the Indo-Pacific, due to its location, trade dynamics, as well as its own clean tech industry. This could reorient the economic networks and shift the balance in the region.

As a researcher in green-industrial strategy, I worry that the democratic world is losing ground to China in this emerging geoeconomic arena. Unless the West provides an alternate network to help the region meet its energy transition needs, it risks ceding the economic alignment of the Indo-Pacific region to China’s government.


Recent Bloomberg report demonstrated that many Indo-Pacific states can’t meet their 2050 energy transition needs from domestic onshore solar and wind generation. While energy imports have been a hallmark of regional politics for many years, the economics and energy transition are changing existing dynamics. Fixed-grid integration is preferred to more flexible liquid energy imports.

In many cases, it is cheaper to build large grids that deliver electrons as energy than to use hydrogen, which might have to be imported to meet clean energy requirements. Already the Indo-Pacific is moving in the direction of being “wired up,” as demonstrated by the proposed 3,800-kilometre-long “sun cable” to connect Australian solar resources with energy markets in Singapore.

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The most efficient course of decarbonization for many East Asian states is to expand their grid connections to their neighbour’s, but this is marred by geo-security risks. If most of their electricity was coming from China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam might be less willing than China to stand up for them. Is Japan really willing to route power through Russian grid connections to meet its renewable energy requirements?

A yellow robotic arm assembles a solar photovoltaic panel
The Jiangxi Green Energy Company produces photovoltaic panels using fully automated machines. They are available for export to the European Union or the United States.

China also has a lot of the industrial capacity needed to produce key green technologies and resources that will allow Indo-Pacific countries access their own renewable resources. A staggering 70 per centChina is home to the largest global production capacity for lithium cells, and Chinese companies are responsible for its production. 71 per centphotovoltaic panels (through an entire supply chain rife in the usage of Uyghur slave labour).

A recent however, White House reportChinese firms now own 72% and 60% of the global cobalt and lithium processing equipment, respectively.

Export polluting industries

China’s dominance in the production of clean energy technologies is also bolstered by the success of the nation’s trade networks. China is already the largest economy in the world. largest source of tradeMost countries in the region, as well as through its Belt and Road InitiativeIn China, Beijing is providing increasing financing for regional infrastructure.

Thick white smoke and steam billow from stacks against a grey sky.
Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin, in central China’s Shanxi province, in November 2019.
(AP Photo/Olivia Zhang)

The nature of Chinese infrastructure investment through the initiative so far has been damaging to global effortsTo combat climate change. China was the largest financierFollowing are some examples of global coal plants development patternExporting polluting industries to poorer countries is a practice that has been established by richer countries (western or non-western).

In keeping with his endorsed vision, President Xi Jinping decided to keep the name of ecological civilization, has made improving the sustainability of China’s trade networks a priority. China’s established trade networks within the region provide a foundation for an increasingly Sino-centric economic orbit, and will likely be flipped to distribute clean energy infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific.

Energy transitions

It’s important the West develop its own green foreign investment strategy to provide Indo-Pacific states a choice of infrastructure as they transition their economies. It will ease pressure to give Indo-Pacific countries, particularly those in South and East Asia that are energy-poor, the option of purchasing low-carbon technology and resources from a variety sources.

The West must develop supply chains for solar and lithium-ion battery production to counter China’s capacity in these markets in the long term. However, there are a range of energy transition technologies that western states hold a competitive advantage in, and that could be the focus of a development strategy for the region — starting right now. For example, investments should immediately be directed at lowering the cost of green hydrogen exports via maritime routes.

Both Canada and Australia have favorable renewable energy resources for producing green hydrogen. with CanadaLeader in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology

Many countries in the Indo-Pacific have the potential to generate electricity from sources other than wind and sun. Indonesia and the Philippinesgeothermal is a market leader. Wind is the most important aspect of geothermal. U.S. and European wind turbine manufacturers share about 60 per centThe market.

In JuneG7 leaders announced the Build back Better World (B3W), partnership that aims to leverage their financing potential to assist low- and medium-income countries in meeting their estimated US$40 trillion infrastructure needs.

Although it is too early to speculate about the B3W’s future success, its visible actions have been limited in scope tours. Latin AmericaAnd West AfricaWith another planned for South East Asia.

However, the B3W could look to the recent financing deal between the U.S., Germany, France and the United Kingdom to aid South Africa’s transition from coal power for inspiration. The first B3W funded projects were slated to be announced in early 2022.

China’s decision makers know that it is uncertain that they will be the top in the short term. hard powerCompetition with the U.S. has been identified as another front of competition. strategic competition. Subsequently, if the West doesn’t want to further cede the economic orientation of the Indo-Pacific towards China, it must increase its efforts to provide the region’s states with a strategic choice in how they meet their energy transition infrastructure needs.


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