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ACE at SAREF 3.0: Shaping a Shared Energy Future – Partnership and Collaboration

01 November 2023

The ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) participated in SAREF 3.0, organised by Sarawak Energy and hosted in Kuching, Sarawak. This event brought together global leaders, experts, and stakeholders, converging to deliberate on crucial matters pertaining to energy and sustainability within the ASEAN region.

Under the theme “A Shared Energy Future – Partnership and Collaboration,” the event welcomed a panel of speakers featuring Dame Christiana Figueres, Co-host of “Outrage+Optimism” & Former UN Climate Chief, Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, Group CEO of Sarawak Energy, Tan Sri Tengku Muhammad Taufik, President & Group CEO of PETRONAS, and Dr Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director of ACE.

Central to this discussion was the ASEAN Power Grid (APG), where the significance of regional collaboration to expedite the transition to renewables and fortify energy security took centre stage. Dr Nuki, highlighted the remarkable progress achieved in the APG in recent years. He noted a significantly higher level of engagement from ASEAN Member States (AMS) and a more robust political commitment from utilities to implement cross-border interconnections within the region. Recent collaborations between utilities in AMS were cited as evidence of the accelerating progress. The success of the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS) was underscored as a significant milestone. Dr Nuki expressed optimism regarding the potential expansion of cross-border interconnections in other sub-regions, such as Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP), following the success of the LTMS interconnection. However, he emphasized the need for collaboration among utilities, regulators, and policymakers to transform the APG vision into a reality.

Finance played a pivotal role in funding innovations and new technologies aimed at achieving net-zero emissions. The discussion revolved around improving access to sustainable finance, securing private financing for profitable projects, and making investments more appealing to potential stakeholders. Dr Nuki emphasised that approximately $7 trillion USD is required to transition the region’s energy system toward a 1.5°C scenario. He highlighted the development of the ASEAN Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance as a tool to channel sustainable financing and underscored the importance of addressing transition financing, recognising the continued role of fossil fuels in the energy transition.

Following up, Dr Nuki highlighted the critical role of public-private partnerships in exploring emerging clean energy technologies such as hydrogen and biofuels. He noted that public-private partnerships could help share and allocate risks based on expertise, ultimately improving the feasibility of projects and enabling the development of breakthrough technologies.

As the discussion concluded, the focus turned to the leadership required to ensure that ASEAN can meet its climate goals. Dr Nuki emphasised the “ASEAN way,” acknowledging the unique situations and needs of AMS. Effective leadership, he noted, should inspire change and action while accommodating the diversity that characterises the ASEAN region. Lastly, he highlighted the energy terminology: No Transition without transmission, no security without interconnectivity and no affordability without synergy.

The event significantly bolstered ACE’s ongoing commitment to shaping a sustainable and shared energy future within the ASEAN region.