Online, 4 May 2021

To enhance cooperation between International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and ASEAN and as part of Renewable Energy Sub-Sector Network (RE-SSN) Associated Meetings, a joint workshop organised by ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) and IRENA, hosted by Cambodia, was held on 4 May 2021. The workshop aimed to align IRENA’s collaboration activities with programme area no 5: renewable energy under the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) Phase II 2021-2025. H.E. Victor Jona delivered opening remarks, Director-General of Energy, Ministry of Mines and Energy and Senior Official on Energy Leader of Cambodia; Mr Asdirhyme Abdul Rasib, Senior Undersecretary for Sustainable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Malaysia and Chair of Renewable Energy Sub-Sector Network (RE-SSN); Mr Binu Parthan, IRENA Head of Regions; and Dr Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director of ACE.

(Photo caption: Opening remarks by Honorable, H. E. Victor Jona; Dr. Nuki Agya Utama; Mr. Binu Parthan; and Mr. Asdirhyme Abdul Rasib)


In strengthening dialogue between ASEAN and IRENA, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2018. Since then, IRENA has supported the region in renewables and energy transition plan. In 2021 – 2022, IRENA priorities are the support and engagement of National Determined Contributions (NDCs) in ASEAN.

Presenting the World Energy Transition Outlook (WETO), Mr Nicholas Wagner from IRENA emphasised the importance to achieve the 1.5 °C global scenarios with net-zero emission through the improvement of Renewable Energy (RE), Energy Efficiency (EE), and electrification. The share of renewable energy in the primary supply will need to grow from 14% in 2018 to 74% in 2050. Renewables need to supply 90% of total electricity by 2050, up from 25% in 2018. Investment in renewables, efficiency and electrification needs to be scaled up. The 1.5 °C scenarios, requiring around USD 4.4 trillion per year of acquisition. Integrated innovation for the energy transition process should be accompanied by holistic transformation through financial innovation, business models and community engagement, structural changes across the value chain, governance and institutional framework, market design and regulation, and technology and infrastructure.

(Photo caption: IRENA 1.5 °C Scenario by Mr. Nicholas Wagner)


IRENA has developed Flextool, an optimisation tool that solves economic dispatch and capacity expansion to enhance power system flexibility. IRENA FlexTool used for flexibility assessment for national power sector plans, flexibility assessment for REmap electricity scenarios, and analysis of flexible options to integrate Photovoltaics (PV) and wind. IRENA FlexTool promotes countries individual capabilities and evaluates potential synergies to support increasing shares of REs in the region.

RE has a considerable potential to be implemented globally. In 2005 there were only 43 countries that had announced RE targets, which as of the end of 2019 increased significantly to 172 countries. Energy transition is essential for heating and cooling too. The five transition pathways in heating and cooling are renewables-based electrification, renewable gases, sustainable biomass, solar thermal heat, and geothermal heat. Also, the development of green hydrogen; policies for access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy; electrification; and power systems are crucial for the energy transition.

From ASEAN socio-economic perspective, implementation of the Transforming Energy Scenario (TES), which highlights the improvement of renewables, will increase the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate, job creation and welfare significantly compared with the Planned Energy Scenario (PES). Compared to PES, the GDP of Southeast Asia improves at an average rate of 3.2% until 2050, jobs in renewables almost doubled, and welfare improves by 11.2% in 2050 primarily due to improvement in health and Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction. The ongoing Climate Investment Platform (CIP) will enhance RE investing with a projected total installed capacity of 464 MW, capital mobilisation of USD 1.1 billion and GHG emission reduced by five tCO2e million.

For the last session, programme area no 5: Ms Monika Merdekawati delivered renewable energy under APAEC Phase II from ACE. Supporting the RE program area of APAEC, there are six outcome-based strategies (OBS) and 16 action plans. ACE and IRENA have continuously cooperated to develop the RE outlook and long-term ASEAN RE roadmap, supporting the achievement of OBS 1: advance RE policy and decarbonisation pathway.

Taking the key findings from the COVID-19 insight series, the falling electricity demand caused immense profit loss in most ASEAN Member States (AMS) utilities, forcing the utilities to readjust their investment portfolio. Further, the movement restriction had caused a significant supply chain disruption, affecting the RE projects in ASEAN. It depends on imported machine and technologies and foreign experts. However, despite the multiplier effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic has also positively impacted clean power development with continuous renewable initiatives in ASEAN. Based on the ACE survey result, fossil fuel (coal, oil, and gas) is the most impacted energy sector from the COVID-19 pandemic by 68%, while RE only 16%. Oil & gas companies are rethinking their investment to be more into clean energy technologies. To leverage the untapped RE, ASEAN could capture the potential financing flow from the latest divestment strategy from oil companies, both global and regional.

Thus, ASEAN-IRENA must strengthen cooperation under APAEC Phase II to accelerate energy transition towards RE and enhance EE and electrification efforts to achieve the 1.5 °C scenarios with net zero-emission.


By Shahnaz Nur Firdausi

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