Expanding Solar, Wind and Ocean Energy

Preventing catastrophic climate change is the most pressing issue of our time and setting the world on a path towards the 1.5°C aim of the Paris Agreement has now been firmly cemented as the key target. The period to 2030 will be crucial and if emissions do not decline significantly by then, the world risks already exceeding the 1.5°C limit in the next decade. The G20 economies have the key role to play, as they make up over 90% of GDP, 75-80% of international trade and two-thirds of the global population. If the G20 leads it can have significant positive impacts on changing the energy system for the better. However, it is not just G20 countries that need to act, all countries will need to do their part. Therefore, a coordinated global strategy is key, one that builds off expertise from both large countries and small, and a collaborative process that helps facilitate this is key and should be a main aim of the G20.

ASEAN countries have set the aspirational target of securing 23% of its primary energy from modern, sustainable renewable sources by 2025 – up from around 14% a decade earlier. In addition, some countries, including G20 member Indonesia, have set goals to become net-zero in the 2050-60 timeframe. ASEAN and its member states have started to explore ways in which they can scale up the use of renewable energy and decouple energy demand growth from economic growth. Many technologies can help achieve this, but increasing the role of renewable power technologies are taking the lead. While ASEAN has some of the best renewable potential in the world, the scale-up that is needed is significant, and will need to be supported by the larger international community and in particular G20 countries. 

To help shed light on the type of accelerated transition that is required, IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022 report outlines a path in the long and medium term towards a net-zero energy future. The report outlines key technologies and solutions that are needed to enable the transition, the level of investment needed, and how much it would cost. In addition, IRENA is undertaking several projects in the ASEAN region including a regional outlook and two country energy transition outlooks, one for Indonesia and another for Malaysia.

As part of the Indonesian G20 presidency and its Energy Transitions Working Group (ETWG), IRENA organised a workshop on the future of energy globally with a specific focus on the ASEAN region that can shed light also on other emerging economies. The event was associated with the Energy Transitions pillar of the ETWG.

The conference drew from IRENA’s work both globally, and in the ASEAN region, as well as other activities of partners in the region, to explore ways in which G20 and ASEAN countries can support each other in rapidly expanding renewable energy and driving down emissions consistent with net-zero around mid-century.

It highlighted the key technologies that will be needed to accelerate the energy transformation with a special focus on solar, wind and ocean energy, and provide insights into how these technologies, can transform the energy system in Southeast Asia. In addition, the conference discussed how innovation can help bring down technology cost and the role the G20 must play in this area. For instance, green hydrogen is emerging as key solution necessary to enable net-zero energy systems. The roundtable also discussed developments and issues affecting the energy sector related to current crisis, and the larger topic of the geopolitics of energy and supply security.