Scaling low-carbon infrastructure in Asia Pacific

image is Worley Qatarenergy LNG

As part of the energy mix, liquefied natural gas (LNG) can support the shift from coal and the additional energy mix needed to fuel economic growth in developing markets. Picture used for illustrative purpose.

Asia Pacific needs to identify and adopt the next generation of low-carbon and scalable infrastructure in efforts to accelerate its decarbonisation progress.

The next stage of renewable energy and alternative fuel development to achieve lower carbon emissions is complicated. Project sites will be larger and more challenging. Many sites will require connecting renewable energy resources in remote areas to the grid. Challenging commercial models will emerge to include energy for export and renewable energy for green hydrogen.

Nevertheless, opportunities exist to integrate multiple generation, transmission, and distribution technologies and get them to work together at the right price point and at the right time to achieve commercial and environmental success.

Diversifying baseload power

Asia Pacific economies are transitioning from a carbon-based economy to an electron- and molecule-based one. Finding the right energy mix for near-term requirements and long-term change will be critical for the region.

As part of the energy mix, liquefied natural gas (LNG) can support the shift from coal and the additional energy mix needed to fuel economic growth in developing markets.

The demand for LNG as an energy source for large-scale gas-fired power generation is growing as LNG for baseload power is viewed as a bridge between the retirement of coal-fired power assets, the speed of renewable energy penetration and the emergence of newer and alternative clean energy solutions.

Scaling production, speed to market and maintaining competitive pricing will be critical for the industry to meet growing demands. Technology and execution innovation, such as floating LNG (FLNG) and modularisation, are driving the industry forward and unlocking stranded gas in locations unsuitable for traditional large-scale facilities.

Insufficient production capacity

Black & Veatch has been involved in five of the 10 FLNG projects in operation or under construction globally.

Presently, Asia Pacific’s production capacity is insufficient to balance increasing levels of renewable energy alongside near- and long-term consideration of alternative clean energy solutions, including hydrogen, nuclear, energy storage and carbon capture.

Asia Pacific must increase LNG production and improve its supply security, given the deepening impacts of climate change and the challenge of ensuring a reliable and sustainable energy supply.

Small and midscale facilities for LNG production, storage and regasification is an important component in accelerating the region’s LNG access.

Adapting LNG terminals for hydrogen

As the world decarbonises, adapting existing LNG terminals to potentially handle hydrogen and its derivatives such as ammonia can extend their infrastructure lifespan. Ammonia is more energy-dense than liquid hydrogen and can be similarly liquefied for storage and shipment as LNG.


Synergies can also be improved by integrating LNG and power facilities. For instance, Black & Veatch is providing EPC services for a gas- and oil-fired combined cycle power project in Southeast Asia.

Advanced technologies like carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) can lower the carbon intensity of gas-fired facilities as demand for natural gas increases.

Accelerating renewable deployments

As Asia Pacific increases renewable generation capacities to meet regional decarbonisation targets, the region must ensure that every energy electron produced is optimally used.

Storing unused electrons is key to avoiding wastage.

Energy storage technology enhances energy security by balancing sudden and significant drops in power production from variable renewable energy resources to improve grid reliability and stability.

Battery energy storage systems (BESS) are energy storage power stations that use a group of batteries to store electrical energy. BESS offers a quick way to respond to an electrical grid power failure and can be paired with microgrids, electric vehicle or fleet charging infrastructure.

The Philippines case study

Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a safe and efficient technology that can also facilitate Asia Pacific’s shift to renewables.

However, the technology is limited to locations where hydropower can be integrated as part of the energy mix, such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

In the Philippines, Black & Veatch conducted pre-feasibility studies for a project involving solar photovoltaic (PV), pumped storage and BESS for 850 MW of firm power from 8 AM until 9 PM.

PSH can balance generation and demand by storing and dispatching energy as needed and improve transmission efficiency by using existing transmission lines more completely.

The long-life and proven solution can be deployed to stabilize the electric grid to save equipment from damage; and shift power supply over long periods to reduce the risk of curtailment.

Seasonal energy storage

In the long term, much of hydrogen’s potential could reside in providing seasonal energy storage. As economics improve over time, it could also serve as the missing link for utilities, commercial businesses, and industries seeking to operate sustainably.

Future hydrogen offtakers could include steel and cement manufacturers, transportation hubs and data centers.

Black & Veatch is building 365 megawatts (MW) of electrolysis capacity across three global projects, more than doubling green hydrogen production around the world.

The company has conducted several landmark studies across Southeast Asia, including one for Augustus Global Investment, which engaged Black & Veatch to conduct a study on green hydrogen generation for its USD 500 million project in Indonesia. The project envisions green hydrogen production using electrolyzers powered by grid-supplied renewable energy.

Grid modernisation

With renewable energy resources often located far from existing transmission lines and increasing distributed energy resources (DERs) and bidirectional flows, Asia Pacific needs better-planned and designed transmission systems to address voltage and frequency variability and grid code requirements across the grid.

This includes deploying interconnection lines, interconnection substations, and switching facilities in areas with high potential for renewable generation to support seamless connection to the grid.

These facilities will help to reduce the risks from renewable generation related to lower inertia and lack of dynamic reactive power capability while also facilitating integration with the collector substations that accompany each large-scale renewable development.

Key challenges to transmission

Key challenges to improving transmission in the region are land acquisition and right-of-way (ROW) access.

While a typical solar farm takes six to nine months to develop, high-voltage transmission lines take years to deploy. Land issues can cause further delays. Deploying floating solar farms can help to reduce the costs associated with land use.

Higher capacities of renewable energy generation will shift the operational complexities of grids from large power plants near the point of power consumption to more distributed and intermittent renewable plants and DERs.

Asia Pacific must be ready to re-evaluate existing transmission and distribution systems and conduct more advanced and interconnected planning and design across these systems.

Additionally, expanding domestic transmission grids to interconnect with regional grids will facilitate the sharing of excess renewable energy. This allows economies lacking in renewable resources to import renewable energy to meet domestic decarbonisation goals. Likewise, the energy trade supports the economic development of economies with abundant renewable resources.

 Singapore, for instance, is targeting to import up to 4 gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon electricity from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia by 2035.

Looking ahead and joining the dots

Asia Pacific economies are at different stages of development. Geographical and social factors vary in each economy and decarbonisation strategies must be tailored to meet these diverse requirements.

As the region transitions, LNG can provide the essential flexibility required to balance supply and demand fluctuations in grids with a high mix of variable renewable energy.

Then, in pace with the much-needed rapid increase of renewable generation deployment, it is critical to ensure that every energy electron produced is optimally used.

Concurrently, Asia Pacific’s transmission grids must be significantly upgraded to balance variable renewable generation and stabilise the grid.

Without a doubt, the decarbonisation journey ahead is complex. To be successful, the industry needs partners across the entire lifecycle of these project developments. Joining the dots will be critical, from government policies and planning alongside boardroom investment decisions to choosing the right technologies and then building facilities that work together as part of lower-carbon energy systems throughout the region.

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