Asia needs to find a balance between energy access and sustainable growth

With increasing talks on sustainable growth and adoption of renewable energy, there is a pressing need for Asia to implement solutions to increase energy access.

Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), shared that “the region has the resources to provide energy access, the challenge is how to utilise these resources effectively”.

Today, about 15 billion people in South Asia have no access to energy. This unmet demand, unless met by modern energy solutions and sustainable sources, will continue to add to Asia’s current greenhouse gas emissions as the consumer of 50% of the world’s energy, she added.

With regards to modern energy solutions to help achieve sustainable growth for Asia, Mr Anil Sardana, CEO & Managing Director of Tata Power, shared that there is an important role for innovative non-traditional solutions such as the use of distributed generation to provide energy access and compressed natural gas which is a third of the cost of LNG.

In addition to innovative and more advanced energy solutions, Mr Ditlev Engel, CEO DNV GL – Energy emphasised the importance of creating a mechanism to reflect market-driven demand and supply. Hon. Simon Bridges, Minister of Energy and Resources, New Zealand added that competition in the energy market is crucial and a key driver of the energy landscape.

Mr Bridges highlighted the importance of aligning government policies and the needs of the nation and people towards more sustainable growth. In particular, he said that target setting was important and that the “government and regulators need to focus their mind and their nation to where they want to head for renewables”.

To this, Dr Akhtar shared her suggestion of setting standards for the energy industry in the region to facilitate understanding and progress of cross-border issues.

With regard to greater deployment of sustainable energy sources, Mr Luan Jun, Executive Vice President, State Grid Corporation of China, shared how the Chinese grid operator implemented solutions to overcome the challenges with the intermittency of renewables such as solar energy generation. One solution was to optimise thermal and hydro power dispatch capability to help fill the gap of intermittency. Existing power sources coupled with better technology and storage systems also helped to reduce the intermittency of renewables.

The panel concluded that the pace of development and uptake of sustainable energy sources and modern energy solutions would continue to be different across countries in the Asian region. They assented that this challenge created a unique opportunity for the more developed countries in the region to help facilitate the progress of adoption in countries which are new to these solutions. If executed in tandem, the adoption of innovative energy solutions and sustainable energy sources and better cooperation between countries would help increase Asia’s energy access in a sustainable way.

By Chua Shen Hwee

Published: 26 Oct 2016


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Websites: Original announcement from Singapore International Energy Week website