Singapore-IEA Forum: Stepping up Efforts on Renewables Deployment and Climate Action

The Singapore-IEA Forum explored how the global energy system could develop in the coming decades—and the actions that could accelerate clean energy transitions. Alexis Loy reports

Singapore-IEA Forum Stepping up Efforts on Renewables Deployment and Climate Action 1

The Singapore-International Energy Agency (IEA) Forum on 27 October put the spotlight on the opportunities and challenges faced in accelerating a clean energy transition. In the ASEAN region, governments and the private sector have stepped up efforts to drive up renewables deployment and climate action—in spite of the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the market.

Ngiam Shih Chun, Chief Executive of Energy Market Authority, Singapore, remarked how international organisations, such as the IEA, play a vital role in catalysing change and supporting Southeast Asia’s transition towards a low carbon energy future, as ASEAN and IEA celebrate their 10th anniversary of strong collaboration in 2021.

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In his keynote address, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Md Hussein, Minister of Energy, Brunei Darussalam, discussed the green initiatives taking shape in the country. Outlining these initiatives, he shared how Brunei plans to achieve a low carbon emission amid increasing energy demand by increasing the percentage of renewable in Brunei’s energy mix, disseminating the industry’s best practices in reducing energy intensity and deploying advanced carbon abatement technology.

Dr Awang noted the importance of taking reference from documents such as IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2021 in helping countries shape their policies and strategies in achieving a sustainable energy future. He highlighted the Bandar Seri Begawan Joint Declaration (conceived from the 39th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Security and Energy Transition) as a testament to ASEAN’s commitment in spurring efforts on long-term energy and climate policy planning through increased energy efficiency and deployment of low carbon energy technologies to minimise greenhouse gas emission (GHG).

Dr Awang extended his welcome for further co-operation with the international community and key industry players to facilitate the research and development of innovative technologies that can accelerate the energy transition within the Southeast Asia region.

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H.E. Takiyuddin bin Hassan, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Malaysia, stated that the current economic crisis—underpinned by soaring fuel prices in Europe and Asia—presents an opportunity for countries to accelerate climate agendas. He shared how the Twelfth Malaysia Plan highlighted the country’s ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions earliest by 2050, with commitments to increase its renewable energy installed capacity for the power sector and halt construction of new coal power plants.

H.E. Takiyuddin cited that 23% of Malaysia’s current energy mix is from renewable sources (mostly hydro and solar) and the government aims to increase this share to 31% by 2025 and 40% by 2035. This plan is expected to reduce carbon emission intensity to 45% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 (compared to carbon emission levels in 2005). He further shared how Malaysia plans to achieve these targets: by building large-scale solar power plants (with the largest plant producing a capacity of 100 MW), encouraging the development of mini renewable energy generation for selling excess energy to the grid, and establishing the country’s own Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) tracking platform.

The implementation of these initiatives is expected to generate new investment opportunities and create jobs in the green energy sector—and thus, aid Malaysia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic growth in the long term.

H.E. Takiyuddin advocated for a pragmatic, yet forward-looking, approach in transitioning the energy systems towards a low-carbon future: with future-proof policies that are balanced in terms of the aspects of the energy trilemma of sustainability, affordability and reliability.

IEA launches World Energy Outlook in Southeast Asia

Mary Burce Warlick, Deputy Executive Director, IEA, shared the latest insights from the new World Energy Outlook. She cited how, despite some positive progress as countries pledge to reduce carbon emissions, there is still a significant gap in commitments to meet the Net Zero Emission scenario by 2050.

Ms Warlick emphasised the importance of securing strong global commitments today in order to reach net-zero emission by 2050.

She further noted that the IEA expects that with the full realisation of all announced pledges, both oil and natural gas demands will peak in the current decade and then decline, while renewable sources such as solar PV and wind capacity will continue to grow beyond 2030. This will bring about the emergence of a new global energy economy, which will be more electrified, efficient, digitalised and clean—with a huge potential for growth in the renewable energy market and jobs creation in related sectors.

To close the gap in reaching net-zero emissions, Ms Warlick said there are available policies and technologies with more than 40% of these actions required being cost-effective, including integrating more low-cost renewables (e.g. solar, wind) into power generation, methane abatement and improving energy efficiency.

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She concluded by calling on countries to accelerate clean energy transition to address the current mismatch in investment for clean energy technologies (as opposed to conventional energy technologies) and lower the risks of energy security and fuel price volatility.

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