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Strong Cooperation and Enabling Policies can Lead Energy Transformation in Southeast Asia

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image: IRENA

Meeting future energy demand in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a high priority in the region. With current indigenous fossil fuel resources incompatible with climate and sustainable development goals, and the COVID-19 pandemic causing fuel price volatility and economic uncertainty, the region can now seize the moment to put renewable energy sources at the forefront of its energy planning and growth agenda.

That was the focus of a joint-webinar hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE). With IRENA’s recent Global Renewables Outlook (GRO) report and Power Generation Cost 2019 report framing the discussion, the virtual event entitied ‘Accelerating the Southeast Asian Energy Transformation’ brought together more than 160 participants from across the ASEAN region and further afield, to identify ways to catalyse the energy transition in Southeast Asia.

Under IRENA’s GRO, Southeast Asia’s economy could by grow an additional 2.9 per cent above current plans and policies by 2050. The Agency’s ‘Transforming Energy Scenario’ is a model that aligns the global energy system with the goals of the Paris Agreement. GRO 2020 shows that Southeast Asia could meet about 41% of all of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030 and create an additional 6.7 million green jobs by 2050. Participants learned that as a result of dramatic cost reductions, replacing the world’s costliest 500 gigawatts of coal fired power in favour of renewables next year would yield annual savings of up to USD 23 billion per year.

In opening remarks, Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of IRENA emphasised that the region stands at a crossroads in terms of its energy future, highlighting that sustainable and affordable energy can be the cornerstone of growth and the pursuit of climate and sustainable development goals for ASEAN countries. Ms Singh pointed to the importance of renewed political will and the adoption of strong policy frameworks to drive the region’s sustainable energy progress.

Dr. Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director of ACE stressed the region’s commitment to fulfing the Paris Agreement as well as achieving regional goals, including the ASEAN Plan for Action and associated regional energy cooperation frameworks. “We are progressing towards our 23 per cent aspirations renewables target,” he said, adding: “but our current path will leave us 5 per cent short by 2025. With renewables’ costs falling, they can greatly support our economic, climate and sustainable development goals.”

Building new solar is cheaper than building new coal in all countries of the region, noted Ken O’Flaherty, UK COP 26 Regional Ambassador for Asia Pacific and South Asia, highlighting that new coal plants make bad business sense, risk stranded assets, and are incompatible with the Paris agreement. Acknolwedging the need for parties to convene and strengthen cooperation, he said: “Together we can ensure that every country across Southeast Asia has the ability to unlock their renewable energy potential, and pursue clean alternatives to coal power. Under the UK’s Presidency of COP26, in partnership with Italy, our energy transition campaign aims to accelerate the global transition from coal to clean energy. We are working closely with countries, development banks, investors and civil society. We look forward to working closely on COP26 and our energy transition campaign with our key regional partners, including ASEAN institutions, ACE, IRENA, IEA, NDC Partnership and ADB.”

With a view to establishing outcomes, participants heard interventions from high level participants of Indonesia, Viet Nam, Singapore, the Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association and ACE, as well as from UNESCAP, with whom IRENA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and the Global Wind Energy Council, which is a member of IRENA’s Coalition for Action.

Liming Qiao, Asia Director of the Global Wind Energy Council, finds the region’s wind energy potential to be promising, with the market growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.6% in the last decade —largely driven by the cost reductions and government policies. Sharing other speakers’ view on the importance of policy certainty, she said: “While many countries can have ambitious long-term renewables targets, the right policy frameworks and clarity of those are still missing which hinders the industry progress for the lack of stability. This is a critical roadblock that needs to be resolved for more and larger-scale renewables development in ASEAN.”

In closing, Dr Nuki Aguya Utama, said that growth based on clean sources is one of the region’s highest priorities, and that cooperation is the key. “Regional energy cooperation is crucial to accelerating renewables deployment, with an uneven endowment of renewables potentials across the region. ASEAN will play a role in implementing mitigation measures.”

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Policy Measures to Advance Jordan’s Transition to Renewables

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A new report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has identified a series of policy measures that can help advance the energy transition towards renewable energy in Jordan.

The “Renewables Readiness Assessment: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” – developed in co-operation with Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, suggests opportunities exist to deepen private sector engagement in national efforts to reach a 31 per cent share of renewables in total power by 2030.

“The recommendations of this report comply with the newly issued Energy strategy 2020-2030 and its action plan,” said H.E. Engineer Hala Zawati, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources in Jordan. “We are fully aware that to achieve all these ambitious targets, a strong partnership between the public and private sectors is needed. We are also eager to work with international friends and partners to make renewable energy a main pillar of the Jordan energy sector.”

The report presents policy action areas to increase energy security and boost supply diversity through the accelerated uptake of renewables and includes ideas to boost end-use electrification and increase the availability of energy transition investments from domestic institutions.

Jordan’s share of electricity from renewables grew from almost zero in 2014 to around 20 per cent in 2020 thanks to enabling frameworks and policies that have supported the deployment of renewable energy technologies, including solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind.

“Jordan boasts significant renewable energy resource potential that if realised will reduce consumer energy costs, improve national energy security, create jobs and stimulate sustainable growth – boosting post COVID-19 economic recovery efforts,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “This report highlights a series of policy and regulatory measures that will allow Jordan to build on its energy transition progress to date and align it with 2030 national decarbonisation goals.”

Capacity building in local financing institutions and project developers can drive their engagement in the energy transition, the report says, while helping the country to meet its needs in important areas such as the build-out of electric charging infrastructure for the transport system.

Challenges associated with integrating higher shares of renewables in Jordan can be addressed by building and upgrading transmission and distribution infrastructure, deploying storage, promoting demand-side management and incentivising electrification of heating, cooling and transportation.

Renewables Readiness Assessment: Jordan lists concrete recommendations around the following seven action areas:

  • Provide the conditions for renewables to grow in the power sector
  • Foster continued growth of renewable power generation
  • Plan for the integration of higher shares of renewable power
  • Incentivise the use of renewables for heating and cooling
  • Support renewable options for transport and mobility
  • Catalyse renewable energy investment
  • Strengthen local industries and create jobs in renewables

Read the full report

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World Bank Supports Angolan’s Electrification with $250 Million

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The World Bank approved $250 million to improve the operational performance of the electricity sector utilities and increase electricity access in selected cities of Angola.

The  Electricity Sector Improvement and Access Project will finance electrification investments in the provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Huila, and Huambo, delivering 196,500 new electricity connections that will benefit close to one million people and 93,857 public lights.

The project will focus on electricity access expansion and improvement of revenue collection, electricity service improvement, capacity improvement of the public electricity producer (PRODEL, Empresa Pública de Produção de Electricidade), and strengthening sustainable management of generation plants. The project also aims to increase the commercial performance of the national electricity distribution company (Empresa Nacional de Distribuição de Electricidade, ENDE) as well as provide financing to the national transport network Rede Nacional de Transporte, RNT) for targeted interventions to improve and optimize the dispatch of electricity supply and the overall management of the national transmission network. Furthermore, the Project will also finance immediate measures to raise the operational, commercial and technical capacity  of  the three national power utilities, leading to significant electricity service improvement.

“Investment in infrastructure, especially in energy, is key to  economic development ”, said Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Director to Angola “Quality access to electricity services will have a spillover effect in many other sectors, including agribusiness, health, education, just to name a few.”

Angola’s power generation capacity, largely based on hydropower, has developed at a fast pace with the national installed generation capacity quadrupling in just one decade, but transport, distribution and cost recovery remain very challenging. Less than 40 percent of Angolans have access to electricity, with inadequate electricity services impacting poverty, productivity and regional disparities. Therefore, the project aims to deliver the most critical actions needed to help expand electricity access, improve the operational and commercial performance of utilities, and ultimately boost their creditworthiness. This, in turn, will contribute to reducing extreme poverty, improving the resilience of communities to impacts arising from COVID-19, and increasing shared prosperity.

The total project cost is $417 million, financed with a $250 million loan from the World Bank and a credit of $167 million from Agence Française de Développement.

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IEA and SICA to collaborate on clean energy transitions in Central America

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote clean energy transitions in Central America. Under the MoU, the two organisations will expand their cooperation on energy data and statistics, energy efficiency and climate resilience of electricity systems. These have all been identified as key areas for energy transitions and climate change mitigation in the region under SICA’s Central American 2030 Sustainable Energy Strategy.

“The IEA is pleased to team up with SICA to expand our work in Central America, a dynamic region that is home to over 55 million people and has excellent clean energy potential with distinctive transition opportunities and challenges,” said IEA Deputy Executive Director David Turk. 

Under its Clean Energy Transitions Programme, the IEA has been expanding its collaboration in Latin America. This is taking place both bilaterally with key partner countries – including the two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico – and on a regional level through cooperation with leading regional organisations, including the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE) and the Inter-American Development Bank. The signing of the IEA-SICA Memorandum of Understanding is a new milestone for the IEA’s engagement with the region. 

“Today’s signing ceremony marks an important step for SICA’s work on clean energy transitions – an important priority for our member countries, which can now benefit from the IEA’s leading analysis and expertise,” said Vinicio Cerezo, SICA Secretary General.

The Central American Integration System (Sistema de Integración Centroamericana, or SICA) is an economic and political organisation composed of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá and the Dominican Republic, that works to foster closer ties and integration across Central America and the Dominican Republic to promote peace, liberty, democracy and development in the region.

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