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Southeast Asian Nations Tout Green Power Links Ahead of COP26

Southeast Asian countries are hastening their provisions to channel renewable energy via a proposed regional power grid to accommodate climate change targets with test trials beginning in 2022, as the governments and corporate officials said in a conference.

In this latest News Singapore, we are covering this announcement from the summit.

The Proposal

A few members of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are also probing CCS or carbon capture storage technology to lessen the carbon emissions, as stated by the officials in the last Singapore International Energy Week Conference. 

According to the proposal by the ASEAN nations, they are planning to make 23% of primary energy from renewable resources by 2025. 

The report was released prior to the United Nations COP26 climate summit that will be held in Glasgow on October 31. The proposal was regarded as the last chance for ASEAN nations to announce solid aims for cutting down carbon emissions this decade.

According to Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of IRENA or International Renewable Energy Agency, she said: “We’ve heard some very positive announcements in terms of investments going into renewables.”

“ASEAN are really looking at bringing in almost one-quarter of the energy from renewables by 2025 — that’s a very ambitious goal that they’ve set for themselves, but I think the international cooperation and regional cooperation are going to play a very, very important role,” she added.

The ASEAN Grid Project

By 2022, Singapore will begin to import renewable electricity from Malaysia. Also, as a part of a regional grid project, ASEAN nations will begin to transmit the initial 100 megawatts of power from the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore power integration project at the end of the succeeding year. 

An idea conceived first in 1999 called the ASEAN grid with an aim to boost the energy security of the region is now on its Phase 2. The project is expected to provide renewable power transmission all over Southeast Asia. Australia is also considered as the main supplier of green energy with proposals to export to Singapore.

Investments to Renewables

Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Gan Kim Yong, stated in a speech from the conference, “With the power sector accounting for almost a quarter of global emissions, decarbonizing electricity generation is at the core of the global climate change effort.”

Proposals to import low-carbon electricity up to 4 gigawatts by 2035 or equivalent to 30% of its total reserve by Singapore are on the line, as they rely mostly on natural gas for their power generation for decades.

Sunseap Group and Sembcorp Industries from Singapore and Indonesia’s PLN Batam and PT Trisurya Mitra Bersama from Indonesia had signed deals during the conference for new solar power proposals.

Coal-dependent Nations

Indonesia’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Arifin Tasrif, stated that most ASEAN nations are still dependent on coal for power and CCS is the best solution to carbon emissions.

“The ASEAN region is still in some ways dependent on coal power… this situation must be carefully considered when setting our path towards carbon neutrality, and significant efforts should be made,” he said.

A company called Exxon Mobil Corp is promoting building CCS hubs across Asia and has started to have discussions with nations on possible storage options for carbon dioxide.

Financial Challenges

The project also needs further regulations and huge investments to ensure that the development and connection of the grids across borders will be met.

According to ASEAN Secretary Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN requires at least $367 billion to finance the projects in the next five years.

The region obviously needs to improve its sphere of investments and also to boost its financial sources to meet the energy transmission targets of the projects.

“Much remains to be done. There is a need to improve the investment environment for energy transition, and to expand beyond our current sources of finance,” he said.

For more latest Singapore news like this, go to The Straits Times.