Future energy needs a top concern of Thais, survey finds

Economy February 05, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Thailand, the Philippines and India top a list of nine Asian countries that say they are very concerned about future energy needs amid increasing pressure for more energy, water and food to keep up with population growth, according to Shell.

The oil multinational commissioned a series of surveys in which 80 per cent of the respondents ranked longer-term future energy needs alongside everyday concerns such as public education and cost of living as important. The surveys covered 8,446 people in 31 cities and nine regional areas. 
These concerns have arisen amid growing energy pressures globally. By 2030, the world is expected to need 40-50 per cent more energy, water and food in tandem with rising demand and increased populations. Tremendous stress will be placed on these vital resources as energy is used to move and treat water. Water is required to produce energy, and both energy and water are required in the production of food. 
“It is encouraging to know that Asians view future energy needs as high-priority, as this region will see one of the fastest growths in population and energy demand,” Jeremy Bentham, Shell’s vice president for global business environment, said yesterday. 
“More than ever before, the industry, government and public all have a joint responsibility to create a better energy future, and must come together to collaborate and coordinate our efforts to meet these challenges for generations to come.”
Most survey respondents expect energy shortages and higher energy prices to have a significant impact on their countries. Issues seen as most pertinent are energy shortages in Thailand (91 per cent) and South Korea (70 per cent), higher energy prices in India (91 per cent) and Singapore (79 per cent), water shortages in Vietnam (89 per cent) and food shortages in Indonesia (86 per cent).
The surveys indicate that Asia is in favour of a mix of future energy sources, with solar power and natural gas leading the way in many countries. Solar is the most desired future source across most countries, which include Singapore (86 per cent), Thailand (83 per cent) and India (77 per cent). 
Natural gas is cited as the most preferred future energy source in Brunei (87 per cent) and is second-most-preferred in Singapore (52 per cent), Indonesia (43 per cent) and India (43 per cent).
Survey respondents agree that collaboration among industry, the government and the public, as well as innovation and incentives for cleaner energy, are the most important factors in shaping future energy needs. The role of the government is considered particularly important in most countries, while the public is cited as most important for Thailand. 
Asia’s future energy challenges and the survey findings will be discussed in depth tomorrow at the “Shell Powering Progress Together” forum, a gathering of thought leaders from business, government, academia and civil society. Some 300 participants will join the event to address the world’s growing water, food and energy challenges. It will be held in conjunction with “Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2014” in Manila. 
Key panellists include Carlos Jericho Petilla, secretary of the Philippine Department of Energy; Vinod Thomas, director-general of independent evaluation, Asian Development Bank; Jose Ma Lorenzo Tan, president and chief executive of World Wildlife Fund Philippines; and Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the India Centre for Policy Research.