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Enlit Asia Closes with Optimism and Commitment to Net Zero Goals

The effects of global warming, that scientists have long predicted, have become our present reality. Increased human emissions and greenhouse gasses have accelerated climate change, and warmer global temperatures are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. Some changes, such as droughts, wildfires, extreme rainfall and weather events, are happening even faster than the science had previously determined, with dire impacts on the global population.

Traditional reliance on fossil fuels have been a major driver behind greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental crisis. As nations grapple with the escalating impacts of climate change, the need for a swift and sustainable energy transition has become increasingly evident. To limit a global temperature rise to well below 2°C and mitigate a worst case scenario situation, global communities will need to come together to transition the global economy and energy system towards a cleaner and sustainable energy reality.

On 14 – 16 November 2023, over 11 thousand attendees gathered for the Enlit Asia 2023 conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, held in conjunction with the country’s 78th National Electricity Day. The largest gathering for the ASEAN power and energy sector to showcase expert knowledge, innovative solutions and insight from industry leaders, this year’s conference featured discussions around the theme ‘Strengthening ASEAN Readiness in Energy Transition’. The panels of the 3-day summit featured distinguished lineups – Dr Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director of ACE; Narsingh Chaudhary, President, Asia Pacific & India; Noriyuki Ueda, Chief Solution Officer, JERA Asia; Suzanne Gaboury, Director General, Private Sector Operations Department, Asian Development Bank; Zainal Arifin, DPP, Masyarakat Ketenagalistrikan Indonesia; Edwin Diender, CIO, Global Energy Business Unit, Group Huawei; Raymond Ravelo, First Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, MERALCO; Dato’ Abdul Razib bin Dawood, CEO, Malaysia Energy Commision; Dato’ Hamzah bin Hussin, CEO, SEDA Malaysia, among many other esteemed experts.

Tackling the ASEAN Energy Challenge

Day 1 of the conference centred on the challenges faced by the Southeast Asian energy ecosystem in the race to net zero. Across the board, countries are facing barriers in the form of policy, strategy, technological innovation, and investment risk. However, the challenge faced by the Southeast Asian energy ecosystem is a unique one.

The region is going through a period of exponential growth, and its booming populations and economies demand energy. With the current state of the climate, relying on fossil fuels to power this growth – as the rest of the developed world had done – is not possible. Still, meeting the growing energy needs of the population is a task that cannot be compromised.

In his keynote address during the conference, Dato’ Seri Ir. Baharin, President and Chief Executive Officer at Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) outlined this challenge – “The pace of the energy transition is accelerating. There is incredible task ahead of utilities to bend the emission curve while still serving an increasingly higher energy demand…3000GW of energy will need to be sourced from clean energy to meet our net zero targets.”

This is just one part of a delicate balancing act called the energy trilemma. The renewed energy system must, first and foremost, serve the consumer.

“ASEAN nations, including Malaysia, face the challenge of balancing the energy trilemma of delivering clean energy at affordable price, while ensuring security of supply.”

Determined to build an energy ecosystem that will stand the test of time, ASEAN countries are banding together to build an energy grid that is interdependent – and stronger for it. Panelists throughout Day 1 discussed the road ahead and steps needed to achieve a net-zero energy system, strategies to accelerate the energy transition and building a sustainable, equitable energy future for Southeast Asia.

Strengthening Capabilities of the Future Grid

As the world transitions to sustainable energy sources, grid modernisation will be crucial to address the evolving challenges and demands in the energy sector. Aging and existing energy infrastructure often struggle to cope with the increasing demands of a rapidly evolving energy landscape. The transition towards cleaner and sustainable energy sources also means adaptation of the grid is required to accommodate the intermittent nature of renewables. As a result, the need for enhanced efficiency arises, along with the integration of advanced technologies to optimise energy distribution and reduce losses.

Day 2 of the Enlit Asia 2023 conference was marked by a dynamic symposium focused on the theme of ‘Strengthening Capabilities of the Future Grid’. The discussions delved into key panels and presentations, including a panel on ‘Grid Modernisation Paving the Way Towards a More Flexible, Resilient and Efficient System.

Industry leaders shared strategies and insights on fortifying Indonesia’s future energy sector in a presentation titled ‘Accelerating Renewable Energy Access in Indonesia’, which shared innovative approaches and policy recommendations to expedite access to clean energy. Further panels addressed crucial topics like RE integration – preparing ASEAN grids for the seamless integration of renewable energy – and ‘Smarter, Faster, More Efficient’, which explored how next-generation control systems are overcoming complexities in grid optimisation.

Engaging discussions ensued on achieving decarbonised power systems across ASEAN

In addition to the theme of grid strengthening, the conference shifted focus to the “Roadmap Toward a Decarbonised Future.” Engaging discussions ensued on achieving decarbonised power systems across ASEAN, the maximisation of synergies between renewables and conventional sources in hybrid power generation, and the assessment of ASEAN readiness to retrofit or early retire coal fleets in the pursuit of Net-Zero Emissions (NZE).

A significant highlight of Day 2 was the Hydrogen & Ammonia-themed symposium, where experts explored a ‘Regional Hydrogen Outlook’, detailing roadmaps, strategy, and directions towards energy independence. Panels on ‘Realizing ASEAN Hydrogen & Ammonia Economy’ and ‘Co-firing Ammonia (and Hydrogen) in Fuelling the Future’ provided insights into key steps, considerations, and the latest developments in advancing hydrogen and ammonia as critical elements in the future energy landscape.

Smarter, Digitalised and Optimised Power Generation

On the third day of the dine conference, the agenda delved into a variety of compelling topics centred around enhancing the efficiency, sustainability, and reliability of power generation.

Discussions covered a broad spectrum, addressing key aspects of energy generation such as optimising plant performance through best practices and technological advancements, exploring the potential of decentralised power generation for a cleaner and more secure energy supply, and implementing digitalisation and advanced asset management for improved operational efficiency and reliability.

Participants engaged in conversations on strategies for minimising downtime, maximising uptime, and the pivotal role of predictive maintenance in optimising plant performance. The agenda also featured discussions on re-imagining ASEAN energy retail markets, incorporating next-generation technology and data-driven customer management to enhance the overall customer experience. Additionally, the significance of data-driven power generation, grid-scale storage, and the promising potential of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) in ensuring stable grids within the ASEAN region were thoroughly examined.

Day 3 provided a comprehensive exploration of insights and strategies, charting the course toward a more efficient, sustainable, and customer-centric energy future in the ASEAN region.

Indonesia Passes on the Baton to ASEAN Neighbour, Malaysia

The closing ceremony of the Enlist Asia 2023 conference marked a significant moment of collaboration and transition, demonstrated by the ceremonial handover of the Enlit Asia trophy from Secretary General of the Indonesian Electricity Society & Chief Executive of HLN78, Arsyadany G. Akmalaputri, to MyCEB Acting CEO Zain Azrai bin Rashid.

As Indonesia successfully passed the hosting duties of Enlit Asia 2024 to Malaysia, the symbolic gesture signified a shared commitment to energy transition and sustainability. Arsyadany emphasised the collaborative spirit required for a successful energy transition, expressing hope that the upcoming Enlit Asia 2024 in Malaysia would replicate the success witnessed in Indonesia.

As Indonesia successfully passed the hosting duties of Enlit Asia 2024 to Malaysia, the symbolic gesture signified a shared commitment to energy transition and sustainability.

Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau under Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MyCEB) acting CEO Zain Azrai bin Rashid echoed this sentiment, expressing pleasure in accepting the responsibility and envisioning the future event as a catalyst for increased international participation in Malaysia. The seamless handover was a testament to the region’s united pursuit of low-carbon energy solutions and sustainable practices. This spirit of collaboration was also summed up by Dato’ Seri Ir. Baharin in his speech.

“In the region, Malaysia recognises it role in facilitating our collective ET goals. We are reinforcing our transmission infrastructure as part of our efforts in supporting the link within our neighbours under the ASEAN power grid.”

“When I spoke at Enlit a year ago, our mission was to highlight how critical an interconnected ASEAN was in reaching our net zero goals. Over the past year, we have been putting words into action.”

“Today, Tenaga has 29 Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with renowned local and international partners in related fields, and we anticipate that the number will increase as we progress,” he said. “But the most important partnerships, we believe, are those that we forged over the last two years with our own neighbours in ASEAN.”

As the curtain fell on Enlit Asia 2023, the legacy of collaboration and progress resonated, leaving an indelible mark on the region’s journey towards a sustainable energy future.

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