The first edition of the ASEAN Energy Outlook Forum 2022 (AEOF 2022) has been conducted online on 11 January 2022. AEOF 2022 showcased the 2021 Energy Insights, the survey results on the ASEAN Energy Agenda, as well as the 2022 Outlook on energy development especially pertaining COP26 and the role of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in supporting the green recovery post COVID-19 pandemic. The main presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Beni Suryadi.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr Nuki Agya Utama explained that ASEAN is currently gearing to energy transition through efficient equipment and the digitalisation of the electricity sector. Following the volatile oil and gas price and increasing energy demand in 2021, innovations in the oil and gas sector in ASEAN are needed. He highlights solar and wind power as the leads of ASEAN’s renewable energy growth, with its widening role supported by hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. He further spotlights RCEP as the world’s biggest free-trade agreement which hopefully results in a more stable and secure ASEAN community.
In the keynote speech by Cambodia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, H.E Suy Sem, the shift of prior policies and resources towards environmental protection was affirmed, while still maintaining socio-economic development. Cambodia’s utilisation of 45% renewable energy in 2021 from 40% in 2019 is also seen as progressive step to a greener economy, which will also be supported by the innovation of Clean Coal Technology (CCT) and Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) for existing fossil fuel power plants.
The 2021 Energy Insights, presented by Monika Merdekawati, explores ASEAN’s energy sector in 2021. Oil and gas strongly recovered in 2021 with explorations being resumed, national policies being announced, and innovations such as CCUS, hydrogen, and digitalisation supporting the oil and gas sector. Gas as a transition fuel is also seen a cleaner alternative to coal. The electricity sector is currently challenged by the spike of fuel prices and supply disruptions. This drives decarbonisation, cross border electricity, and digitalisation to be embraced by stakeholders. Meanwhile, renewable energy is driving ASEAN towards green recovery, with solar and wind being the leads of Renewable Energy (RE) development. She also highlighted the role of baseload renewable energy such as geothermal, hydropower, and biomass to support renewable energy transition as well as the development of electric vehicles (EVs) and biofuels for transportation.
According to the regional survey result, Suwanto explained that ASEAN has gradually recovered from the pandemic with energy sources from coal, solar, hydro, and natural gas considered to provide the most affordable electricity in 2022. However, respondents are uncertain that the regional target on energy intensity and renewable energy will be achieved in 2025, with policy gaps and the region’s priority on economic recovery being of main concern. The ASEAN Power Grid (APG) and Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipelines (TAGP) have the opportunity to scale up in line with economic development, in which innovations are needed to adopt the interconnectivity. Meanwhile, emerging technologies such as hydrogen, CCUS, EV and energy storage should be supported by the establishment of policies, financial terms, and Research and Development (R&D).
The presentation session was concluded by Muhammad Rizki Kresnawan with the 2022 outlook report. Due to the pandemic, the government provided economic recovery packages in the form of electricity tariff relief, fiscal stimulus packages, and loans to support the shift to renewable energy and projects related to energy transition. Currently, the region’s energy demand is expected to continue its rebound to 2.1% according to IMF. The Glasgow climate pact highlights the importance of science-based decision making, adaptation plan, climate adaptation finance, clean power generation, and international collaboration and cooperation. With only three years to 2025, 2022 is seen as the turning point for AMS to reach their national energy target with the expectation of a rapid development on technological innovation, capacity additions, and long-awaited regulations.
The final agenda of AEOF 2022 is the panel discussion moderated by Beni Suryadi, including Dr Zulfikar Yurnaidi, Jennifer Tay, Dr Vong Sok, and Dr Alloysius Joko Purwanto as the panellists.
Dr Zulfikar Yurnaidi, Team Leader of the 7th ASEAN Energy Outlook (AEO7), started the discussion by updating on the region’s energy status. The last two years show how well the energy sector fares on the change in demand, proven by the rebound of the economy and energy use, resulting in high energy prices. Energy transition would be a lot faster this year as countries have presented their renewable energy roadmap.
Jennifer Tay, Partner and Infrastructure Leader of PwC Singapore, explained that solar power, ranging from floating solar to rooftop solar, has been developing rapidly in Singapore. She talked about how the private sector can contribute to the energy sector. As an example, for the 81 billion amounts of capital gathered by Sembcorp, 61% has been focused on renewable energy projects. She highlights the importance of transparency of private sector projects, with the announcement of feed-in-tariffs attracting a lot of investors.
A similar sentiment of the private sector was shared by Dr Vong Sok, Head of the Environment Division, Assistant Director of the Sustainable Development Directorate, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department ASEAN Secretariat. He explained that there needs to be increased capacity building to encourage private sectors to work with the government. He also highlighted that in regard to energy transition, partnerships with the Asian Development Bank may create good practices to phase out coal. Therefore, adequate research is needed.
Lastly, Dr Alloysius Joko Purwanto, Senior Energy Economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), stated that AMS should have been able to take advantages of the last oil price drop period by scraping fossil fuel subsidies. He expects to see how RCEP deals with renewable energy development in 2022, concluding that the liberalisation of markets should be oriented towards the increase the competitive of ASEAN country in terms of renewable energy.