By Myrna M. Velasco
Underpinned by series of meetings and associated events during the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM), the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and dialogue-partners have charted new as well as ‘upcycled’ promises and directions’ that could virtuously propel the region to economic progress.
Beyond the 10 ASEAN-member states (AMS), the other dialogue-partners that made pitch into the region’s energy pathway included China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand, Russian Federation and the United States.
Philippine Energy Secretary-host Alfonso G. Cusi, at the concluding events, had reiterated that the core of collaborations will deal with: regional energy policy and planning; renewable energy; Trans-ASEAN gas pipeline, clean coal technology, energy efficiency and conservation, ASEAN power grid; and primarily the need to corner new investments.
On the last item relating to enticing investments though, the ‘torrents’ of talks from event’s participants had been that: this year’s event had not fared well as many of the deep-pocketed investors were disappointed for not being afforded their high expectations to at least raise their issues and concerns relating to policies and regulatory frameworks in the scheduled dialogue between the Ministers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of key companies – primarily because of the failing attendance of the ASEAN energy ministers.
On regional energy policy and planning, it was still the repetitive call for “sustained cooperation” that had been cast, with ASEAN stating that this will “ensure security of energy supply and promote a low-carbon energy sector.”
For the RE sector, cooperation pathway is with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), although Cusi has admitted that “we have a long way to go,” hence, the need to devise “a Renewable Energy Outlook as guide to narrow the gap on the RE initiatives in the region.”
Tidying up the image of ‘coal technology’ had also been part of the big discussion, and ASEAN strategy on this would be anchored on the deployment of the more advanced clean coal technologies.
The ASEAN states said they give importance to “promoting highly efficient and clean coal technologies in the regional drive to lower carbon emissions and a more sustainable future for the region and the world.” Coal, coincidentally, is still the biggest fuel source for power generation in the region.
The ASEAN Power Grid and Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline projects are among the long-planned endeavors for the region, but have not advanced that much even with the stretch of decades that already passed.
The initial phase of the regional grid link-up was just firmed up in this year’s meeting for the interconnections of Lao PDR-Thailand and Malaysia. Energy efficiency and conservation as well as civilian nuclear energy also took the core of discussions, albeit many of the ASEAN countries are still on their learning curve on these initiatives.
The goal of the region is to reduce energy intensity by 20-percent to year 2020, from currently at 18.3-percent.
For nuclear energy, the ASEAN countries have invited experts in this field on experiences-sharing discussions, primarily those from Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
The AMS agreed to target an increase in the average GDP growth to 6% across the region, and recognized the vital role of the private sector and their active participation in the ASEAN region. The AMEM35 and the ASEAN Energy Business Forum had a joint opening ceremony to underscore the fact that the ASEAN is a sweet spot for business growth and development.
Finally, Cusi said: “The Philippines takes pride in hosting the AMEM35 as this showcases not only our capability to manage an international energy event, but the beauty and culture of the country as well the talents and hospitality of Filipinos.”
Tags: ASEAN Center for Energy, ASEAN charts new goals for region’s energy collaboration, International Renewable Energy Agency, Philippine Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, renewable energy