Rethinking Energy Through Interconnection

By Alex Lim Yew Hua

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Southeast Asia, China and India are expected to contribute to 60 percent of global energy demand, said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) during his video keynote at the Singapore Energy Summit. This demand will need to be met in an affordable and sustainable way, he added, with energy efficiency and renewables expected to play influential roles.

Against this backdrop, Mr Liu Zhenya, Chairman of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) introduced Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), which allows clean energy to be transmitted and used globally.

This reduces the power grid’s variability across time zones, seasons, electricity prices and resources – and is expected to strategically expedite energy transformation by improving the efficiency of clean energy and generating a great wealth of economic benefits, said Mr Liu. An interconnection in Asia, including Southeast Asia, can help mitigate energy demands in the region which is expected to reach nearly 3.2 trillion kilowatts by 2050.

A smaller scale interconnection is already being looked at in the Philippines. Mr Alfonso Cusi, Secretary of Energy for The Philippines, said that the country is exploring distributed energy systems and interconnections between the islands within the Philippine archipelago. Mr Cusi added that cross-border interconnection could potentially substitute fuel stock imports.

However, an interconnected grid which spans across states presents challenges to energy security, said Prof Masakazu Toyoda, Chairman and CEO of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ).

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Citing interconnections that are already present in Europe, Mr Neil McGregor, Group President and CEO of Sembcorp Industries, said that political will and government policy are essential to address these challenges and foster development.

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