Power Part­ner­ship

Nor­way and ASEAN have an­nounced a three-year en­ergy project that could help solve some of the re­gion’s power is­sues.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - S NAPSHOTS - CHEYENNE HOLLIS

The project also pro­vide in­sights on how each of the coun­tries are do­ing to main­tain their com­mit­ment to the Paris cli­mate ac­cord.

It took a long time to put the re­cently agreed upon en­ergy project Nor­way and ASEAN to­gether, but this was not sur­pris­ing to the Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador to ASEAN, Mr Morten Høglund. That’s be­cause en­ergy is an ever-changing sec­tor and it is vi­tal for a project like this to be up-to date.

How­ever, both sides wanted to get this project over the line. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Høglund, en­ergy is one of the sec­tors Nor­way can pos­i­tively con­trib­ute to in the ASEAN re­gion given the coun­try’s his­tory, technologi­es and knowl­edge in the field.

“This is an in­ter­est­ing time in re­gards to en­ergy. Hope­fully this part­ner­ship can help make a dif­fer­ence. We be­lieve that it could be a crit­i­cal part of a re­gional en­ergy so­lu­tion,” Mr Høglund ex­plained.

The part­ner­ship will see sig­nif­i­cant co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the ASEAN Cen­ter for En­ergy and the Nor­we­gian In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs (NUPI), which will sup­ply knowl­edge on power, cli­mate

is­sues, pol­icy and other is­sues fac­ing the re­gion.

“The project is partly a study of en­ergy poli­cies and then rec­om­men­da­tions on how to make cur­rent prac­tices more sus­tain­able. It is also im­por­tant to look for new ways to build ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity in the ASEAN en­ergy pol­icy,” Mr Høglund said. “We can utilise our strengths in re­new­able en­ergy to ad­dress some of the chal­lenges, such as elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, fac­ing ASEAN coun­tries. We have lots of ex­per­tise and knowl­edge in terms of re­new­ables and look for­ward to shar­ing our Nor­we­gian ex­pe­ri­ences and so­lu­tions with our ASEAN part­ners.”

This agree­ment comes at a crit­i­cal junc­ture for en­ergy in ASEAN. With both the pop­u­la­tion and eco­nomic power of the re­gion ex­pected to grow in the com­ing decades, en­ergy pro­duc­tion will need to fol­low suit.

“The pop­u­la­tion is young and de­mand for power is likely to keep grow­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture,” Mr

Høglund stated. “We want to play our part in that growth by making sure the so­lu­tions are sus­tain­able, and, ide­ally, re­new­able when­ever it is fea­si­ble. We also want to achieve more sus­tain­able use of ex­ist­ing en­ergy out­put.”

Mr Høglund added both Nor­way and the mem­bers of the ASEAN un­der­stand the need for be­ing cli­mate friendly and the new project can help build mo­men­tum for clean en­ergy in the re­gion. How­ever, this un­der­stand­ing and the ac­tions of the coun­tries don’t al­ways match up.

Re­search from the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency found that 85 per­cent of new coal power de­vel­op­ments will be built in Asia with South­east Asia lead­ing this charge. There are cur­rently plans in place to build 40 gi­gawatts of new coal power in Viet­nam alone.

“There needs to be a sense of ur­gency when it comes to clean en­ergy in South­east Asia. This isn’t about telling the coun­tries to change en­ergy sources, but en­sur­ing ev­ery­one has enough en­ergy. And find­ing ways to make sure this en­ergy comes from sus­tain­able or cleaner burn­ing sources,” Mr Høglund pro­claimed.

He con­tin­ued, “There con­tin­ues to be in­no­va­tion in the re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try. It is not as costly as it has been in the past. Price will al­ways be a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor for gov­ern­ments when choos­ing en­ergy so­lu­tions and these in­no­va­tions means price is no longer

re­stric­tive when it comes to adopt­ing re­new­ables.”

Di­verse chal­lenges

ASEAN spans ten coun­tries and each one is unique when it comes to en­ergy sources, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion rates and other mat­ters. While there are some sim­i­lar­i­ties, the Nor­way and ASEAN en­ergy project is more fo­cused on a few com­mon goals than try­ing to solve ev­ery is­sue each coun­try is fac­ing.

“The re­gion is di­verse. You have coun­tries in dif­fer­ent stages of de­vel­op­ment. The en­ergy in­dus­try is at dif­fer­ent lev­els of de­vel­op­ment. The project is aimed at ad­dress­ing the big pic­ture is­sues fac­ing the mem­bers of the ASEAN as a whole,” Mr Høglund pointed out.

One of the largest com­mon is­sues fac­ing the re­gion is meet­ing its com­mit­ment to the Paris cli­mate ac­cord. All of the coun­tries in ASEAN sub­scribe to the pact. Mr Høglund noted that it is necessary to look at the poli­cies in place and see if the coun­tries are on track to meet­ing their com­mit­ments while also ex­plor­ing what can be done to im­prove their work.

As men­tioned ear­lier, the coun­tries that com­prise the ASEAN are all at dif­fer­ent stages of de­vel­op­ment which presents some unique sit­u­a­tions. For ex­am­ple, Brunei and Sin­ga­pore are the most in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries in ASEAN but face dif­fer­ent prob­lems in reach­ing en­ergy goals. Sin­ga­pore is a leader in en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings and grids pow­ered by re­new­able sources mean­ing the coun­try will likely have no is­sues meet­ing its emis­sions re­duc­ing tar­gets.

On the other hand, Brunei is de­pen­dant upon the oil and gas sec­tor which means the coun­try needs to find ways to re­duce the green­house gas emis­sions caused by in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity along with cutting en­ergy con­sump­tion.

In­done­sia, Malaysia, the Philip­pines, Thai­land and Viet­nam are each deal­ing with in­di­vid­ual chal­lenges in ad­di­tion to com­mon prob­lems. And while the project can’t find so­lu­tions for each and ev­ery is­sue, it does hope to bring en­ergy and car­bon diox­ide emis­sion out­put through­out the re­gion in line with global stan­dards.

This is sim­ply one of a few ar­eas where the project can have its great­est im­pact. An­other chal­lenge fac­ing some of the gov­ern­ments is the in­te­gra­tion of re­new­ables. This is some­thing lack­ing in many ASEAN coun­tries.

“There needs to be a reg­u­la­tory frame­work in place as well as a wel­com­ing of these new power sources from na­tional util­i­ties,” Mr Høglund stated. “These are very com­plex is­sues, but we will study this thor­oughly and hope to pro­pose some pos­si­ble so­lu­tions.”

Mr Høglund also be­lieves that there are in­dus­tries where there is room for a re­duc­tion of emis­sion pro­duc­tion and en­ergy can be used more efficientl­y. There are al­ready a few ex­am­ples of this hap­pen­ing in ASEAN.

“We will look to iden­tify spe­cific sec­tors where we can find ways to im­prove en­ergy us­age. An ex­am­ple of this would be green shipping like what we are see­ing in Sin­ga­pore. We have to look at en­ergy us­age as well, not just pro­duc­tion. There are many parts to the chal­lenges and we must con­sider them all,” Mr Høglund said.

Part­ner in­put

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Høglund, there are some in­ter­est­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with a long time part­ner on en­ergy-re­lated mat­ters as Thai­land is sched­uled to take over the ASEAN chair in 2019. The coun­try’s place along the Mekong River, along with its cen­tral lo­ca­tion within the re­gion, means there could be some ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments on this front.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Nor­way is home to many com­pa­nies in­volved with en­ergy and re­new­ables. This is some­thing that will be lever­aged dur­ing the project as these com­pa­nies can bring valu­able in­sights to the part­ner­ship.

“Main­tain­ing a di­a­logue be­tween rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers on both the ASEAN and Nor­we­gian sides is vi­tal for the suc­cess of the project. There will be a num­ber of chances for com­pa­nies to dis­cuss op­por­tu­ni­ties as we move for­ward,” Mr Høglund noted. “We must have in­put from busi­nesses and we will look for ways to get them in­volved. There will be mo­ments for them as speak­ers as well as time for them present what they do and how they can as­sist the rel­e­vant par­ties.”

The project is likely to present some busi­nesses with a chance to grow or reach in­ter­ested agen­cies they may not have oth­er­wise been able to link up with.

“Busi­nesses op­er­at­ing in a few South­east Asian coun­tries may have a chance to ex­pand their pres­ence else­where in the re­gion,” Mr Høglund ex­plained. “The project could pro­vide some Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies with ac­cess to mar­kets they may not have had oth­er­wise while also en­sur­ing they are con­tribut­ing to the re­gion’s en­ergy so­lu­tion.”

The project is cur­rently set to run for three years, but there is room for it to con­tinue longer if both sides are happy with the re­sults.

“We have many aims with this project but ul­ti­mately the main one is to help ASEAN reach its en­ergy goals. We hope the gov­ern­ments and en­ergy min­istries will sub­scribe to our rec­om­men­da­tions and turn them into ac­tion­able pol­icy. The legacy of the project will be if it be­comes rel­e­vant to the coun­tries and con­trib­utes to solv­ing the re­gion’s en­ergy prob­lems. There is a lot of prom­ise, but also hard work to be done,” Mr Høglund con­cluded.



Above Left: The Ba­belan CFB Power Plant in In­done­sia is one of several coal fa­cil­i­ties to have opened dur­ing the past few years. Above: Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador to ASEAN, Mr Morten Høglund, meets with ASEAN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Dato Lim Jock Hoi

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