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2018 through Our Lens: ASEAN is Moving Forward with RE

17 January 2019

The world leaders’ meeting in The United Nations Climate Change Conferences’ 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, ended 2018 with significance in the area of clean energy.  COP24 came up with concrete plans to implement the Paris Agreement. The meeting ended on a high note, resulting in a “rulebook” of how countries should report their emissions. It is worth to note that ASEAN is one of the regions that greatly participated in the meeting. ASEAN Member States (AMS) sent a total of 468 delegates, indicating a strong commitment to pursue cleaner energy.

Despite its reputation as a “dirty region” due to the heavy reliance on coal to meet its energy demand, ASEAN deepens its efforts to address the gaps and challenges in meeting the region’s aspirational goal of 23% share of renewables in the ASEAN energy mix by 2025 as proof of commitment to the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) held in Singapore on 29 October 2018.  The result is the achievement of 12.4% renewables in the regional share in 2016.  This is confirmed by the news we collected and analysed in 2018.  As part of our work for the ASEAN Energy Database System (AEDS), ACE has collected 2179 news on energy from 369 media across ASEAN in 2018, which allows us to conclude the following:

AMS put serious efforts to continue bringing renewable energy (RE) to the region

As a region, ASEAN set an aspirational target of achieving 23% RE in its energy share by 2025. In order to achieve this target, each Member State has established its respective RE target. In 2018, it is reported that some AMS have yielded results in this direction. Malaysia, for instance, is on its way on reaching their 50% RE target by 2050 with the current levels at 21.67%. A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance  listed the Philippines and Thailand in the top 10 countries with the ‘most attractive’ market for clean energy, thanks to their continuous efforts in establishing policy frameworks and good investment climate for RE. In 2018, more AMS stood ready to embrace RE bystrengthening supports to it, like Lao PDR.

AMS set even more ambitious target in implementing RE

For some AMS, the year 2018 was used to set a higher bar in implementing RE. Under the guidance of its new Energy, Science and Climate Change Minister, Malaysia levelled up its target for RE by pursuing 20% RE for the electricity sector by 2025. Malaysia also targets to create more than 200,000 green jobs by 2030. High bar is also set in the field of electric vehicles (EV) by the Philippine industries by aiming to put 1 million EV on the road by 2020, while Thailand aims for 1.2 million EV by 2036.  Indonesia will also take part by launching higher blending mandate of B20 biodiesel usage in September, and planned to accelerate the B30 blend for transportation in 2019.

More investments were put for RE

The progress has also reflected in the increasing amount of investment put for RE. In 2018, a new funding platform called Southeast Asia Clean Energy Facility (SEACEF), formed by a group of western governments and philanthropists, will channel USD 20 million to fund renewable projects in ASEAN, particularly in ASEAN major coal-burning countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Malaysia also recorded potential green project investment of MYR 4.1 billion during its annual international greentech event. Solar investment in Vietnam has also boomed last year after the launch of solar feed-in-tariff by the government in 2017.

Bolstering ties and cooperation for RE

The year 2018 was also about bolstering ties and cooperation for ASEAN to accelerate the efforts for RE. Numbers of bilateral and multilateral deals with RE-advanced countries like EUChinaUKRepublic of Korea were established across the region.

Unlocking new RE Financing option

Financing often becomes one of the biggest stumbling blocks in developing RE, and last year some AMS like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand tried to sort this out by exploring green bond and public-private partnerships, as well as creating other financial incentives to make RE more accessible. It was also expected that ASEAN green bond issuance was doubled from 2017, hitting approximately USD 5 billion.

Exploring new technologies in RE: floating solar PV and blockchain

Keeping up with the digitalisation of the world, some AMS have also explored blockchain for green energy trading last year, with some ahead in the game. Singapore launched a blockchain-based RE market place, Thailand piloted P2P solar trading using blockchain, while in the Philippines, energy firms have shown interest in it.  On the other side, floating solar PV has also gained momentum in several AMS like Malaysia and Thailand, to further utilise the great amount of existing reservoir in the region.

Based on those observations, ASEAN has done tremendous progress for RE in 2018 and embraced the global transition to a greener and cleaner economy. While energy transition is still a long way to go for ASEAN, the highlighted achievements in 2018 hopefully could encourage more AMS to gear up and realise their commitments for RE in the coming years ahead.

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