29 October 2020 |Virtual Event
Global developments have shaken the world in 2020, and the implications for the future of energy need to be understood. Before the current crisis, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region was expected to experience rapid economic growth averaging 5% per year to 2025, which would result in around a 50% rise in energy demand compared to a decade earlier. Surely the near-term impacts will be profound in the region but also globally, but in the medium to long-term it is likely trends will return to the mean, which means an upward trajectory of GDP and energy demand growth.
ASEAN’s fast-expanding economies and growing populations mean rising consumption of energy resources will occurred after the region emerges from this global pandemic. The region has insufficient indigenous fossil fuel resources to meet its growing energy demand, and the share of imported fossil fuel will increase, which has important energy security implications. Therefore, the region stands at a crossroads in terms of its collective energy future. Growth brings challenges as the ASEAN region strives to supply energy affordably, sustainably and securely. Already the region is starting to see the effects including rising energy import dependency, higher levels of air pollution and rising emissions.
In view of this, ASEAN has set the aspirational target of securing 23% of its primary energy from modern, sustainable renewable sources by 2025 – up from around 14% today. ASEAN and its member states have started to explore ways in which they can scale up the use of renewable energy and decouple energy demand growth from economic growth. In addition, with the global health pandemic caused by the COVID-19, and significant health, economic and social disruptions occurring as a result, governments are looking at ways in which to respond. It is therefore an ideal moment to consider sustainable options available toward a climate-proof and resilient energy future.
To help shed light on the type of transition that is required, IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook (GRO) 2020 report, released in April, revealed that Southeast Asia could meet about 41% of all its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030. The report outlines key technologies and solutions that are needed to enable the transition, the level of investment needed, and how much it would cost.
Economies need more than a kick-start. They need stable assets, and just as importantly, they need to work well for people and their communities, so that everyone is included in the pursuit of low-carbon development. Now, more than ever, investment decisions must align with the vision of a sustainable future. Making this happen requires an understanding of the wide ranging socio-economic benefits that also come with the energy transition.
The roundtable drew from IRENA’s GRO report and other activities at IRENA and its partners. It highlighted the key technologies that will be needed to accelerate the energy transformation and provided insights into what technologies, trends, and accompanying socio-econiomic effects will be in Southeast Asia. The roundtable also discussed developments and issues affecting the energy sector related to current crisis.