ASEAN set to a green future

In the years preceding the pandemic, the ASEAN countries had begun a concrete phase of energy transition. Plans for reducing carbon emissions and implementing renewable energy had been developed and signed, including investments in infrastructure and new projects.

Although the sector has also suffered a decline in activity due to the pandemic, investments in renewable energy are expected to steadily increase and this will lead to the sector becoming one of the major drivers of the economy of the entire region. In order to face a project to revive the economies and to increase the development of the renewable energy system, the ASEAN countries have established an ambitious five-year energy cooperation plan (APAEC 2021-2025). ASEAN energy ministers have agreed to set a target of 23% share of renewable energy in the region's total primary energy supply and 35% in ASEAN's installed power capacity by 2025. An ambitious plan, but which is expected to become a primary objective, as much as some countries are already positioning themselves as main players in the development of renewable energy. Today Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines account for over 80% of ASEAN’s total capacity, with Vietnam leading the way with 34%. Vietnam is currently the most active country in reducing dependence on coal and emissions (forecast to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% by 2030). Singapore's energy sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. New installations have suffered a decline of over 50%. This negative effect necessitated prompt government intervention which established a new energy plan and developed infrastructure projects for renewable energy. The positive effects of this action will lead to a new rapid growth of the energy sector, especially the solar one.

Indonesia deserves particular attention. The government has decided to focus on renewable energy with the goal of going from 9% in 2020 to 23% by 2025. However, several obstacles still limit these prerogatives. There is a lack of sufficient investment in the country and there are also problems with the price of electricity. The geographic conformation of the country certainly doesn't help either. Therefore, in order to effectively address the problem, the government at the end of 2020 defined some rules and issued provisions with the aim of helping to attract investments in the renewable energy sector, especially facilitating the possibility foreign intervention. With the pandemic, Thailand has further accelerated its path to developing renewable energy. Under the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP), the government has planned to generate 33% of the country's total energy production through renewable sources by 2037. It is planned to generate energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, water and also an important share of energy from waste treatment. The BOI - Thai Board of Investment offers attractive incentives for investments in the sector. An investment plan of MYR 33 billion (approximately USD 8 billion), prepared by the Malaysian government, aims to reach the 20% target of energy production from renewable sources by 2025, with a particular focus on solar. The Philippine energy plan is a bit longer in time. The government's goal is to have at least 34% of renewable energy installed by 2040. The government's plan aims to attract foreign investment with important incentives, first of all the possibility of obtaining 100% foreign ownership. According to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) of Myanmar, the government plans to develop renewable energy infrastructure with the goal of generating 12% of electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2025. Despite the strong economic recovery of the region as early as 2021, the efforts that ASEAN countries will have to make to achieve these goals will be greater than those planned in the pre-pandemic period. The renewable energy sector is also affected by the restrictions currently in place: there are travel restrictions, disruption of the supply chain, labor restrictions and consequently a decrease in economic availability. Short-term projects could slow down. However, renewable energy remains a goal to be pursued. This is why possibilities and opportunities are increasingly opening up for foreign investors.

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