Asia’s green transition: Renewables in the built environment

Asia-Pacific leads growth in renewable energy generation, but its ageing grids need a revamp to meet the demand of renewables in the built environment.

Key takeaways

  • Asia Pacific (APAC) is leading global renewable energy growth, contributing about 60% of new capacity in recent years.

  • Four in 10 occupiers say on-site renewable energy will become non-negotiable by 2030.

  • Landlord-occupier collaboration is key to scaling up use of renewables in the built environment.

2023 was a year of alarming climate headlines, from the warmest year in recorded history to record-high greenhouse gas emission levels. Yet, it also marked pivotal wins: COP28 saw a landmark global agreement for a “transition away from fossil fuels”. Globally, there is an escalating commitment to embrace renewable energy, with 118 countries pledging to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Coupled with this commitment is a rising demand from corporates in APAC to access renewable energy options to meet their net-zero commitments. RE100, a membership-based initiative with a mandate to drive corporate renewable energy consumption globally, sees a majority of its corporate members operating in APAC. Nearly 1,500 companies in the region have committed to the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi), ranking second only to Europe.

In a JLL study surveying 243 corporate real estate (CRE) leaders across APAC, three in four wants at least half of their office portfolio to be fuelled by renewable energy by 2030.

The APAC region is leading the green energy transition, contributing about 60% of new renewable energy capacity added globally in the last couple of years. At the forefront of this transition are several key Asian countries like Australia, China, Vietnam, and India.

China is poised to dominate global renewable energy growth, with more than half of the world’s renewable energy additions expected to come from it in the next five years. Another notable powerhouse is Vietnam, generating nearly 70% of the region’s solar and wind power. While supportive policies and state incentives have accelerated growth, the rising corporate demand for renewable energy procurement and the price competitiveness of renewable electricity are the key drivers fuelling investment in the region’s green energy sector.

However, being at the forefront of global renewable energy expansion is not yet translating into ease of access and purchase of green power in APAC. The region is among the most challenging globally for businesses seeking to join the renewable transition, according to a RE100 survey.

Renewable energy country snapshots

Real estate asset owners and occupiers in the region have a chance to lead from the front by demanding renewable energy and a more active play with the electricity grid becoming a flexible demand centre. By strategically choosing renewable energy sources and investing in buildings that are ready to actively engage with renewables-powered grids, they will be well-placed to reduce long-term energy costs , and achieve sustainability goals of their real estate portfolios.

Scaling up the use of renewables in a building requires a range of well-planned strategies and considerations. A combination of on-site generation such as solar photovoltaics (PV) installation, and/or off-site renewable energy procurement through renewable energy certificates (REC) and power purchasing agreements (PPA), could be the solution.

Two strategies to scale up renewables

On-site energy

Purchasing renewable energy


On-site energy has the benefit of high visibility and reduced exposure to energy price volatility.

Both investors and occupiers are expressing interest for on-site renewables. Four in 10 occupiers in our research state that on-site renewable energy will become non-negotiable for their organisation by 2030. However, on-site renewables require a degree of cooperation between the landlord and occupier as there are many issues to address including the deal structure, ownership of assets, payment for solar electricity production access to certificate creation and more.

In addition, sites need to be assessed to determine the feasibility of site for solar PV installation, as well as local grid connection or even the ability to share energy with other buildings within the portfolio. Working with a real estate advisor can help both landlords and occupiers to evaluate whether a simple roof leasing with tenant system investment, a third-party financed solar PPA, or landlord capital investment makes the most sense.


Purchasing renewable energy is sometimes the only option for commercial building owners and occupiers.

Corporate PPAs usually require long-term and larger volume purchasing, leaving many good-intentioned renewable energy purchasing corporates at the mercy of certificated markets where double-counting, double-claiming and additionality problems exist.

As a result, APAC lags both Europe and North America in the volume of corporate PPAs signed to date. Corporate buyers can address these issues by purchasing certificates from quality, well-audited projects to ensure they meet their corporate renewable energy or net-zero commitments without the spectre of greenwashing claims.

The development of a strategy around renewable energy, whether that is on- or off-site renewables or a hybrid approach, is imperative in the Asian markets currently. This requires the assessment of local market and regulatory conditions, to capture the opportunities that maximise the renewable energy potential and support the transition within each jurisdiction, in the most cost-efficient manner.

“The real estate sector has a unique opportunity to become part of the electricity infrastructure and shape the future of renewable energy across the APAC region. To meet net-zero carbon goals, there is no silver bullet and therefore a comprehensive on- and off-site renewable strategy is required to capture this opportunity as well as active management of demand in buildings to respond to needs of the grid.”

Elke Kornalijnslijper
Head of Sustainability Consulting, APAC

Implications for real estate stakeholders

What does this all mean for real estate stakeholders? How can they play a bigger role in the green transition?

Building owners


The transition to renewable energy represents a critical step to achieve climate ambitions. It invites the real estate industry to redefine the function of buildings, transforming them from passive — yet massive — energy consumers to active contributors of this renewable-powered ecosystem.

Talk to us 

Get in touch with a JLL expert to find out more about Asia’s renewable energy landscape and its implications for your portfolio.


Kamya Miglani

Head of ESG Research, APAC

Christopher Cormack

Senior New Energy Director


Stuart Crow

Chief Executive Officer, Capital Markets, Asia Pacific

Susheel Koul

Chief Executive Officer, Work Dynamics, Asia Pacific

Marina Krishnan

Division President, Work Dynamics, Asia Pacific

Jeremy Sheldon

Head of Leasing, APAC, JLL

Riccardo Rizzi

Head of Sustainable Operations APAC

Elke Kornalijnslijper

Head of Energy and Sustainability Services - APAC


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