MANILA – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is setting its sights on renewable energy (RE) in finding a lasting solution to the region’s energy needs, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said Wednesday.
To prosper economically, the region needs an energy source that has reduced carbon footprint and cleaner emissions, and these can only come from RE sources — solar, wind and hydro, Cusi said during the joint opening ceremony for the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM35) and Associated Meetings and the ASEAN Energy Business Forum, held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
He recognized the ASEAN’s proactive stand in pushing for RE and the milestones achieved by ASEAN member states in the field of RE, such as exceeding the target 23-percent RE mix for 2025 as early as in 2013 under the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC).
“That is why we also celebrate the recent strides in renewables made by member countries in this region. We celebrate the fact that Singapore has developed the region’s first offshore renewable energy system. We celebrate the fact that Malaysia is the third largest producer of solar panels in the world,” Cusi said.
Despite these achievements, however, more must be done, he said, presenting a challenge to the renewable energy industry to attract investments, build capacities and ultimately bring energy costs down.
Cusi emphasized that while renewables are a sustainable source of energy, they also need to be commercially sustainable.
“Renewables need to be a commercially viable option, able to stand on its two feet without the crutches of subsidies, as well as being an affordable solution for consumers,” he said.
Citing an example, Cusi said in the Philippines, RE has become a viable alternative without sacrificing cost, thanks to innovation and competition.
The Philippines is currently the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world, which is being run even without subsidies and is capable of providing base load needs, he added.
“It is imperative that we pursue a vision of a competitive market that keeps tariffs low and within reach, where the onus is on renewable players to be able to innovate and compete on a level playing field. This is not a fantasy,” Cusi said. (PNA)