During the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Singapore last year, the ASEAN Member States (AMS) acknowledged that the regional target to reduce energy intensity (EI) by 20% in 2020 has been achieved in 2018. More outcome-based strategies were pointed out during the meeting, aiming to further reduce the regional EI by 30% in 2025. With the achievement, ASEAN is motivated to boost energy efficiency and conservation (EE&C) measures as they are considered the low-hanging fruit in contributing to emissions reduction in ASEAN, and has emerged as the new trend in clean energy transition, not only in ASEAN but globally. In addition, when it comes to smart city design, EE&C is always among the top of the list. Such discussions usually include building design, technology innovation, energy storage, cost and resource savings, green environment and transportation among others. In end-use sectors such as heating and cooling, EE&C has undertaken a main role in meeting the rising energy demand with available resources at reasonable costs. Seeing its importance in global emissions reduction efforts and its positive progress in ASEAN, EE&C news should have made more headlines. Instead, it only corresponds to 4% of total collected news in the first three months of 2019.
ASEAN is pushing EE&C through their policies
To enhance their energy efficiency efforts, some ASEAN Member States are strengthening their EE&C regulations and turning them into legislation.
The Philippines had no EE law for over 28 years, and is the last among the AMS to enforce EE&C measures through legislation, and catalyse EE&C investments through fiscal incentives. Congress in the Philippines has finally established a law on EE&C. This law would help the country to further boost their EE&C efforts at the national level and to improve the implementation of energy-saving projects.
In Malaysia, the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC), Yeo Bee Yin, highlighted that a regulatory framework, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act will be put in place to renew the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which is set out to achieve 8% of energy efficiency by 2020. It could be the first step towards climate change mitigation, better energy security, green economies, and healthier environment.
The different EE&C efforts in ASEAN Member States
With technology innovations, EE&C will help save costs/resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and drive green economy.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the growing demand for cooling system could lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, not only from the higher electricity consumption, but also from the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used as the cooling agents. If these pollutants are not managed, they could account for close to 20% of climate pollution by 2050.
To reverse the effect, Malaysia and Singapore for examples implement some EE&C measures. MESTECC in Malaysia is committed to retrofit fifty (50) government buildings with energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lightings and high-Energy Efficient Value appliances. There is an expectation that this will lead to a savings of approximately USD 11.5 billion over 15 years. In January 2019, the National University of Singapore started the construction of Singapore’s first net-zero energy building, which is estimated to save about SGD 180,000 in energy costs a year.
In Malaysia, the fuel stations of Shell Malaysia introduce water consumption management by installing waterless urinals and using water-saving taps. This reduces the usage of water by around 60% compared to traditional fittings, and translates to water savings of up to 310 cubic metres a year. In Vietnam, proper usage of electricity could translate into a more tremendous impact. According to the National Power Dispatch Centre, Vietnam saved 492,000 kWh of electricity, equivalent to USD 39,700, within only one hour during the electricity-free Earth Hour of 2019.
Energy efficiency opportunities lie extensively in the building sector
Cooling system alone accounts for up to 50% of a building’s energy consumption. It is a great potential for cost saving and increase the efficiency of the building’s air-conditioning system.
Cooling systems are a big drain on power, taking up 40 to 50 per cent of a building’s energy consumption. Together with other energy-saving features, such as a double-skin facade to reduce heat gain, the wind scoop helps CapitaGreen company in Singapore to generate monthly savings of about 580,000 kwh.
More EE&C measures in the building sector are lately seen at Shell Malaysia’s fuel stations, which are designed with the roof and wall surfaces painted white to reflect solar radiation, thus helping to reduce the overall temperature of the indoor environment and the workload of air-conditioning system. Roughly USD 5,500 is saved as an annual extra profit for the stations. In the Philippines, a building project called Cebu Exchange is planned to implement low-voltage lighting, water-saving plumbing systems, water recycling system, a materials recovery facility, energy-saving air-conditioning system, its own septage treatment plant, optimised building envelope, and a terrace garden and sky park, among others. Registered with the US Green Building Council and the Philippine Green Building Council, the project is described as a masterpiece of sustainable development, a well-balanced ecosystem of green office technologies, plush amenities, and a diverse retail mix where businesses and individuals can thrive in harmony.
These kinds of green buildings are expected to emerge in ASEAN, as concrete proof of the region’s commitment in advancing EE&C as part of its transition to clean energy. To this end, energy policies on EE&C are desperately needed to encourage the implementation in business activities and ensure best-practices. (Visal Veng. Featured photo credit: Pexel)
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