As low carbon energy initiatives and green financing gather pace, international collaboration and innovation remain vital to ensure a sustainable energy future. This year’s Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW 2021) will feature high-level discussions centred on the key developments shaping the global energy transition and emerging opportunities for green growth.
At the SIEW 2021 Global Launch event, Mr Richard Lim, Chairman of the Energy Market Authority (EMA), highlighted SIEW’s role as a key platform for Singapore and the region to contribute to global energy dialogues and accelerate the pathways to decarbonisation.
Announcing the theme for the 14th edition of SIEW – “Advancing the Energy Transition”, Mr Lim highlighted how innovation and collaboration can create green business opportunities and jobs, support infrastructure investments for enhanced energy resilience, and ensure a just and inclusive future for all.
“We will explore how we can work together to accelerate the transition to actionable pathways toward a low carbon energy future,” he said, adding that the energy transition will mean adopting greener energy sources and changing our lifestyles to reduce energy consumption.
Energy transition at the heart of economic recovery
The hybrid SIEW Global Launch event featured global thought leaders from Accenture, DBS, Envision Digital, Sembcorp Industries, Shell, and representatives from IRENA and the United Kingdom Government. These speakers shared their views on the low carbon energy momentum in Asia and globally, as well as the private sector’s role in pursuing green growth.
IRENA Deputy Director General Gauri Singh delivered a Special Message, noting that “every country will have its unique energy transition pathway, but all countries can realise immense socioeconomic benefits by placing energy transition at the heart of their COVID-19 response.”
She added that key factors to meeting carbon emission targets by 2050 will include technology and innovation, along with public policies to bring about benefits from job creation and international cooperation.
Challenges and opportunities for low carbon energy in Asia
Mr Dolf Gielen, Director of the Innovation and Technology Centre, IRENA, Ms Sylvie Ouziel, International President, Envision Digital, and Mr Tom Moody, Regional Director Southeast Asia, Climate and Energy Network, for the UK Government in Singapore, joined moderator Mr James Chong, Managing Director of Accenture, in the first panel discussion.
Touching on the challenges and opportunities of promoting low carbon energy in Asia, the speakers discussed the critical role of governments in creating a conducive environment and effective incentives to accelerate green energy initiatives.
Sharing key highlights from IRENA’s World Energy Transition Outlook Report, Mr Gielen pointed out that rapid cost reduction of renewable energy has brought about significant uptake driven simply by economics, and this can create additional jobs and economic growth.
Nevertheless, renewable energy alone is not enough. Other success factors for an effective transition include greater energy efficiency, electrification of end uses, and new developments such as bioenergy emerging in Southeast Asia as a fuel that can potentially meet 40% of the region’s energy needs by 2050.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has a direct impact on fiscal resources, Mr Moody noted that the economic case for green recovery is clear, with the potential for millions of new jobs to be created in Southeast Asia alongside a clean energy transition.
Ms Ouziel shared her views on the importance of the state’s role in creating a consistent system design with the right catalysts to progress toward a sustainable long-term economic model. She explained how the use of positive incentives (such as subsidies for corporations to implement fast electric vehicle chargers) and negative deterrents (such as additional taxes on car emissions) can help encourage the early adoption of green energy.
The private sector’s role in driving green growth
In the second panel discussion, Mr Jeremy Bentham, Vice President, Global Business Environment and Head of Shell Scenarios, Shell, Ms Yulanda Chung, Head of Sustainability, Institutional Banking Group, DBS, and Ms Jen Tan, Head of Integrated Solutions (Singapore and Southeast Asia), Sembcorp Industries, examined the role of the private sector in pursuing green growth.
The speakers explored ways to promote and nurture private sector initiatives for energy transformation.
Drawing from Shell’s energy transformation scenarios, Mr Bentham outlined the key actions that can accelerate the energy transition: aligning policies, sectors, and customers, developing smart policy rules and incentives, and establishing pioneer leaders.
He added that industrial competitiveness will be one of the key forces of aligning policies, and shifting investments to promote energy transformation will require policies to enable a just transition where all parts of society can benefit from and support these changes.
"In the short term, some sectors of society may feel disadvantaged which can create resistance," Mr Bentham said. "It is key to develop policies that enable everyone to feel like they are benefiting from the transition and hence, support those changes."
Suggesting that an upcoming inflection point will be about what makes a power project bankable, Ms Chung of DBS elaborated on how a just transition will need to account for the real cost of generation to ensure that stakeholders are incentivised to take action today. She also noted that in the near future, a lot of the new renewable generating assets will be able to operate at a lower cost than conventional power plants, and the industry may be only a few years away from that point.
Sembcorp’s Ms Tan highlighted the significance of ecosystem, partnerships and efforts to build up the energy grid. She added that rapid developments in technologies like grid infrastructure must be matched by the growth of local capabilities and skillsets to ensure a sustainable pace in the adoption of renewable energy.
Revisit the discussions from the SIEW 2021 Global Launch and watch the full video on-demand here
Expect more high-level discussions on energy trends and insights at SIEW 2021!
SIEW 2021 will be held from 25-29 October 2021 in a hybrid format this year, comprising both onsite and online elements. Register your interest for SIEW 2021 here, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebookand Twitter for more updates on the energy industry and SIEW 2021.