smart grids; ASEAN

Korean and policymakers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Seoul recently to discuss ways to cooperate in the energy sector amid the increasing need for a stable supply.

Policymakers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines met between 13 and 17 November for a Joint Training Programme. The programme, hosted by the ASEAN-Korea Centre and the Asia Development Bank (ADB),  aims to enhance capacities by providing a platform for those who are taking part in the region's Power Grid initiatives.

It is imperative to develop a regional power market says ASEAN-Korea Centre Secretary General Kim Young-sun  and enhance interconnections among ASEAN countries as they face an increasing need for a stable energy supply against a backdrop of rapid economic growth.

Attendees listened to lectures from experts from various organisations, including the ASEAN Power Grid Consultative Committee, on regional energy cooperation, the competitive regional power market and the regional power trade market. Among them, the Korea Smart Grid Institute (KSGI) which spoke about the development of Korea's power market and possible collaboration between the two regions.

"The programme has enabled the ASEAN-Korea Centre, which has carried out a wide range of ASEAN-Korea partnership projects, as well as the ADB, which has expertise and experience in infrastructure development projects including the GMS development, to create a great effect," the organisation said.

In line with efforts to transform into a digitally enabled economy, as emphasised through the region's ICT Masterplan 2020, the organisation has been carrying out its trade and investment programmes in the ICT, e-commerce, smart city, smart manufacturing and robotics sectors.

ASEAN investment into infrastructure

It was further revealed last week that the region needs $60 billion a year to address the region's infrastructure gap.

According to the vice president of the ADB, Diwakar Gupta: "You have 400 million lacking electricity, 300 million don't have safe drinking water, and over a billion people don't have basic sanitation facilities. In other words, we have a long way to go. We need huge investment." 

Citing an ADB study, Gupta said that a 10% increase in energy distribution would mean a 7% increase in exports.

The ADB and the 10 ASEAN member countries established the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund to address the region's infrastructure development needs by mobilising savings like foreign exchange reserves. The fund provides loans of about $300 million yearly to finance infrastructure investment deals in the transport, energy, water and sanitation, environment and rural development, as well as social infrastructure sectors.