The ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) was honoured to be invited to the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) Pre-Workshop: The ASEAN Power Grid (APG) in Decarbonizing ASEAN Power Sector, hosted by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). This event, aligned with AZEC’s priorities, gathered esteemed experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with the APG initiative. The workshop aimed to deepen understanding of the APG and AZEC activities while exploring potential collaborations in related projects.
The pre-workshop commenced with a welcome address by Mr. Koji Hachiyama, Chief Operating Officer of ERIA. Keynote speeches followed, featuring Mr. Shinichi Kihara, Director-General for Energy and Environmental Policy at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Japan, and Dr. Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE).
Dr. Nuki underscored the significance of regional interconnection in stimulating intra-ASEAN investment in renewable energy (RE) projects. Referring to the ASEAN Interconnection Master Plan Study (AIMS III), he highlighted that current commitments of ASEAN Member States (AMS) could drive the region to achieve a 39% RE share in installed capacity by 2025, only 5% below the target in the ASEAN RE target scenario.
Dr. Nuki also emphasised the pivotal role of the APG in bridging this gap, especially as AMS recognise the economic potential of energy trade within ASEAN. Dr. Nuki noted that regional interconnection not only contributes to economic growth but also facilitates a significant reduction in emissions. Citing the AIMS III report, he indicated that reaching the ASEAN RE target by 2040 requires 695 GW of RE capacity. This shift towards renewables would lead to a substantial reduction in coal and gas consumption by 48.8 Mt and 2.1 Mt, respectively—more than 1.5 times the current reduction efforts. Additionally, the region stands to benefit from a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions by 90,852 Mt, exceeding current efforts by 1.4 times.
Dr. Joko Purwanto, Energy Economist of ERIA, gave the scene setting on the ASEAN Energy Outlook and its scenarios to enhance energy efficiency, expand renewable energy and achieve the mid-century carbon neutrality targets through low carbon technologies e.g., CCUS, CCS, hydrogen, and cofiring ammonia.
The session progressed with the presentation from the Head of ASEAN Power Utilities/Authorities (HAPUA) Alternate Secretary in Charge, Mr. Iman Faskayana, highlighting the key strategies for advancing the APG from the past and the future. Historically, APG has extended over several periods until the 18 potential interconnections in the APAEC Phase II: 2021-2025. For future strategies, HAPUA will focus on realising the potential interconnections by conducting a more detailed feasibility study for ASEAN Regional Interconnection to scale up investment in the infrastructure required to implement the prioritized interconnections.
Echoing to HAPUA presentation, Mr. Akbar Dwi Wahyono from the ASEAN Centre for Energy highlighted the high-level result of the ASEAN Interconnection Master Plan Study (AIMS III). The study indicated that pursuing the regional interconnection could allow more renewable integrations, reducing the emission from the avoided fuels and helping the AMS to meet carbon neutrality in the coming decades. The study also indicated that pursuing the regional interconnection benefits the AMS in terms of economic perspective.
Meanwhile, from the institutional arrangement perspective, Mr. Kei Sudo, Senior Policy Advisor, ERIA, highlighted the importance of establishing the Multilateral Power Trade Institution within Southeast Asia which will be taking the role of “system planning functions” and ‘’system operation function”. These institutions’ roles are to maximize the economic potential of APG, ensure the safety and reliability of APG and enable open access to the common transmission capacity. The lesson learned from Lao PDR – Thailand – Malaysia – Singapore also indicated the need to establish a regional authority or planning institution that oversees the power system planning and development of the region in totality would be beneficial for regional interests while maintaining national priorities. The result of the study on the Formation of “the ASEAN Power Grid Generation and Transmission System Planning Institution” (AGTP) can be a great reference to pursue this endeavour.
The panel discussion focused on the issues and challenges in terms of technical, regulatory and financial aspects of a regional power grid that need to be addressed for efficient operations of APG, and how AZEC could help address these challenges. Dr. Nuki underscored the findings of AIMS III which has identified the 18 potential prioritized interconnections which all the projects will be followed by massive investment requirements. He, therefore, stated the necessity to synergize all stakeholders’ and potential donors’ efforts in implementing the prioritized APG projects.
The pre-workshop concluded with a commitment to ongoing dialogue and collaboration, emphasizing the shared vision of a sustainable and decarbonized energy future for the ASEAN region.