Australia, Japan and Vietnam are leading the shift to renewable energy in Asia Pacific, according to consultant IHS Markit, coal plants continue to be built at “a brisk pace” as part of energy mix.

Around a third of the power projects under construction — or about 80 gigawatts — are set to use wind, solar, hydroelectric and other types of renewable power across 16 key regional markets as the green energy development pipeline has surged in Asia Pacific.

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Australia leads IHS Markit’s quarterly Renewable Additions Index, with 89% of capacity under construction being either wind, solar or biomass power.

Japan, Vietnam and South Korea are ranked second, third and fourth, respectively, not least because of the many offshore wind projects in the pipeline.

“Our ranking shows that income level is not the sole determinant in a country’s willingness to pursue clean energy,” said Xizhou Zhou, vice president at IHS Markit.

“Renewable energy is no longer a ‘rich nation’ luxury as its cost continues to decline.”

However, some APAC nations lag way behind. Just 6% of Bangladesh’s power capacity under development is from non-hydro renewable sources, while Myanmar and Thailand currently stand at just 4% and 3% respectively.

Mainland China remains the largest renewables market in absolute terms, accounting for 58% of onshore wind and 33% of solar projects under construction in the region.

“But it only ranks eighth place overall because of its large coal and gas-fired power development pipeline,” explained Xizhou.

Fossil fuel generation projects are still being built in Asia Pacific, with 192 GW of coal plants and 65 GW of gas-fired power plants under construction.

China and India together account for 77% of the coal plants being built in the region. For gas-fired power projects, China, Thailand and Bangladesh are the most active.

“While clean energy is growing rapidly in Asia, many emerging market economies continue to build fossil fuel plants to meet fast-growing base load demand with 24/7 reliability,” added Xizhou.

“Developed countries tend to face less pressure as their power demand growth is much slower or has already peaked, but even nations like Japan and South Korea are still building some coal plants.”

Many governments in Asia Pacific have announced clean energy ambitions, while others — including China, Japan and South Korea — have gone even further to commit to net zero emissions.