The Asia region consists of thirteen National Member Committees (NMCs), with Direct Members in two countries (Australia and Vietnam). It is a large and diverse region in terms of its economic stages, culture and language as well as in terms of the energy issues it faces. The Regional Vice Chair is Shigeru (Sam) Muraki of Tokyo Gas in Japan. The Asia Regional Manager is Emily Melton, who retired as Chief Operating Officer of the Council in December 2016 but who continues with the Council in an advisory role.
One of the main activities in the region over the past twelve months has been a study on “Best Practices of the GHG Reduction Measures in Asian Region”. The Study Group was led by Mr Hajime Murata of the Japanese Member Committee, with representatives from Hong Kong, India, Japan and Korea (Rep) comprising the Study Group. The study was approved by the Asian members at the Asia Regional Meeting in Lisbon in October 2017.
A new process for selecting, reviewing and approving regional studies is being piloted in the Asia region over the next year. This provides for two types of studies: one is an Endorsed study, which goes through the Council’s usual governance process, with approval of the proposal and final study required by the Studies Committee. Endorsed studies must provide a regional perspective or regional data that flows into one of the global flagships studies.
The second type of regional study is the Independent study. Independent studies are under the jurisdiction of the region, and the selection, review and approval process is structured under the oversight of the Regional Vice Chair. Such studies are based on topics which emerge from the regional issues map from the latest Issues Monitor and are designed to explore in detail a topic which is of particular relevance to the region. Once the pilot has been completed, the two-prong approach to regional studies will be rolled out to other regions.
Key issues for the Asia region currently include geopolitics, particularly US trade policy; regional interconnections; commodity prices; electric storage; China’s economy; electricity prices; renewable energy; energy efficiency; and innovative transport and digitalisation. Recently, hydrogen has moved to the forefront of the discussion in some Asian countries as a potential way to decarbonise.
- Held the annual spring member meeting in Hong Kong, China, in June 2019, including an open workshop for key energy stakeholders and a closed business meeting;
- Prepared the Asia regional session on Asian prospects for a low carbon society for the Abu Dhabi Congress in September 2019; this session included speakers form APERC, the Asian Development Bank, China’s Energy Research Institute and CLP Group (Hong Kong);
- Carried out a study on “Renewable Energy System Integration: Challenges and Measures for RE Penetration”, which focuses on the hidden costs of renewables. The study leader was Mr Yoshimitsu Umahasi of TEPCO, and the Study Group consisted of Council members from Japan, India and New Zealand. The final report was reviewed and by a Panel chaired by Regional Vice Chair Shigeru Muraki and then was approved by the Asia members attending the Asia Regional Meeting in September 2019. It is the first Independent Regional Study carried out under a new initiative approved by the Studies Committee in 2016, which encourages regions to carry out their own studies, which are expected to contribute to the Council’s global work, but which have strong regional relevance.
The Council continues to develop partnerships with energy-related non-governmental agencies and other regional energy organisations in Asia. These organisations include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre (APERC), the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among others.
A proposal for a deep dive study in the ASEAN countries, based on the Council’s Trilemma (click here for information on the global Trilemma work and its aims and most recent outcomes) is currently being developed to assess how well the countries in ASEAN are meeting the three Trilemma challenges of energy security, energy equity and energy sustainability.
The Ambassadors Programme is a new pilot programme currently being tested in the Asia region. The concept is to use alumni of the Council’s Future Energy Leaders’ (FEL) programme (click here to learn more about the Council’s FEL programme) to help support member committees in the region, to promote the work and messages of the Council in Asia and to help facilitate further member engagement and better communication between member committees and the Council’s London Secretariat.
One Ambassador has been appointed to date, as a pilot test for this programme, with the aim of enhancing and refining the programme and appointing additional Ambassadors in 2020.
- Monthly Teleconferences - All Asian member committees, current FELs and FEL alumni are invited to participate in monthly conference calls, with the intention of facilitating communication and regular interaction among the member committees in the region, informing members of key activities of the Council and helping familiarise them with Council tools that can help them offer value to their own members.
- Asia Regional Meetings – Asian members have the opportunity to meet face to face twice a year, once in the May-June period and once at the annual World Energy Week held in 3rd or 4th quarter of the year.
- Workshops and forums – The Council plans to increase the number of regional and sub-regional content-focused workshops and forums held in the Asia region in 2020, so as to help ensure all member committees are fully aware of all the Council has to offer and can provide input and advice on the content work.
- Content work – Members in the region are regularly asked to provide input to the Council’s global work, including the World Energy Trilemma, World Energy Scenarios, World Energy Issues Monitor as well as dynamic resilience, energy storage, the potential of hydrogen, cyber and nuclear, among others.
- Engagement – Asian members have the opportunity to volunteer to serve as part of expert work groups and on the Council’s Standing Committees and to participate in the annual World Energy Week as well as in the triennial World Energy Congress.
Energy in Asia
A significant shift has occurred in the critical uncertainties in Asia over the past year. The 2018 report identified the top critical uncertainties as electric storage, IoT (internet of things), blockchain and digitalisation. For 2019 the biggest uncertainty is US policy, followed by commodity prices, with electricity prices, electric storage and China clustered in third place. Climate framework, which was an action priority last year, rose back into the critical uncertainty quadrant, although with less perceived impact than other issues.
The fact that many countries in Asia depend heavily on trade with the US, coupled with the recent slow-down in China’s economic growth – which has a trickle-down effect – has created high levels of uncertainty, not only for the region, but also for foreign businesses with operations in Asia and for foreign investors seeking to enter the Asian market.
Concerns about commodity prices is a natural result of uncertainty about US policy and is seen as potentially affecting the availability of foreign imports in a region which is highly dependent on imports. The urgent need to meet increasing demand for affordable electricity in the most populous region of the world and to make electric storage a feasible option is reflected in the positions of these elements in the map.
Under action priorities, renewable energies and energy efficiency are the most urgent issues, as countries seek to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity, manage air pollution levels and still meet their climate action goals.
Digitalisation has moved from uncertainty to action priority as pressure on companies to make their operations more efficient increases. The shift of innovative critical uncertainty in 2018 to Action Priority in 2019 reflects concerns about the increasing number of vehicles on the road, especially in urban centres, and the urgent need to manage the emissions they create.
Finally, economic growth has become an action priority as countries seek to offset the potential impact of US trade policies, tighter financial policies, weaker earnings growth and global political challenges.