Brunei: Chance to take lead in renewable energy efforts

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

The warmed-up relations between Brunei and the US following the Sultan of Brunei’s meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington DC on March 12 did not only result in closer cooperation with regards to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Obama’s recommendation to His Majesty to “go shopping” in the US, but has also triggered new efforts to jointly promote the development of renewable energy in East Asia.

Brunei, with its oil-centered economy, is currently looking for ways to diversify away from hydrocarbon revenues and does so through promoting other industries such as technology and innovation, halal food and manufacturing.

Renewable energy could be another sector where the country could lend its expertise and investment potential to countries all over the emerging region with its great hunger for energy, but yet low commitment to green forms of power generation.

Actually, the 16 countries that convened in 2007 at the East Asia Summit agreed to explore renewable projects to bolster energy security. However, in many ASEAN countries, and due to the rapid growth of their industries, renewable energy has not made the desired progress so far. Many industrial estates are still beefing up their power generation facilities with coal and natural gas plants, and hydropower ventures are partly so large that their construction causes more harm to the environment and population than it should.

Even more, countries such as the Philippines are mulling to reactive a mothballed nuclear power plant near Manila to meet the immense energy demand of the country’s economy which suffers from chronic power undersupply.

Brunei now has an opportunity to take the lead in ASEAN in promoting the renewable energy sector through its role as the ASEAN chair this year and also through the announcement to address energy poverty through a US-Asia Pacific comprehensive energy partnership as announced in November 2012 by president Obama and several Asian leaders.

The workstream to accelerate renewable energy projects in the region entails some interesting details. For example, research will be kicked off on climate change impacts of hydropower production, a particularly important resource for the ASEAN region, and further on capacity building on sustainable hydropower development.

There will also be a public-private dialogue supported by Brunei on eliminating policy barriers to renewable energy investment which is particularly important ahead of the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community and requires clear-cut regulations to bring together potential partners and funding to explore new projects.

Another contribution of Brunei will be to disseminate information on the results of solar power technology testing at Brunei’s new demonstration facility as well as to make available the resources of its Clean Energy Solutions Center to provide fundamental data for investors where to put their money across the sector.

All East Asian countries are encouraged to participate and to contribute in this workstream which will hopefully be a big step forward in sustainable energy generation in a region that is projected to grow tremendously over the years to come but has yet to lay the foundations for ecological awareness.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Arno Maierbrugger

The warmed-up relations between Brunei and the US following the Sultan of Brunei’s meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington DC on March 12 did not only result in closer cooperation with regards to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Obama’s recommendation to His Majesty to “go shopping” in the US, but has also triggered new efforts to jointly promote the development of renewable energy in East Asia.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

The warmed-up relations between Brunei and the US following the Sultan of Brunei’s meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington DC on March 12 did not only result in closer cooperation with regards to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Obama’s recommendation to His Majesty to “go shopping” in the US, but has also triggered new efforts to jointly promote the development of renewable energy in East Asia.

Brunei, with its oil-centered economy, is currently looking for ways to diversify away from hydrocarbon revenues and does so through promoting other industries such as technology and innovation, halal food and manufacturing.

Renewable energy could be another sector where the country could lend its expertise and investment potential to countries all over the emerging region with its great hunger for energy, but yet low commitment to green forms of power generation.

Actually, the 16 countries that convened in 2007 at the East Asia Summit agreed to explore renewable projects to bolster energy security. However, in many ASEAN countries, and due to the rapid growth of their industries, renewable energy has not made the desired progress so far. Many industrial estates are still beefing up their power generation facilities with coal and natural gas plants, and hydropower ventures are partly so large that their construction causes more harm to the environment and population than it should.

Even more, countries such as the Philippines are mulling to reactive a mothballed nuclear power plant near Manila to meet the immense energy demand of the country’s economy which suffers from chronic power undersupply.

Brunei now has an opportunity to take the lead in ASEAN in promoting the renewable energy sector through its role as the ASEAN chair this year and also through the announcement to address energy poverty through a US-Asia Pacific comprehensive energy partnership as announced in November 2012 by president Obama and several Asian leaders.

The workstream to accelerate renewable energy projects in the region entails some interesting details. For example, research will be kicked off on climate change impacts of hydropower production, a particularly important resource for the ASEAN region, and further on capacity building on sustainable hydropower development.

There will also be a public-private dialogue supported by Brunei on eliminating policy barriers to renewable energy investment which is particularly important ahead of the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community and requires clear-cut regulations to bring together potential partners and funding to explore new projects.

Another contribution of Brunei will be to disseminate information on the results of solar power technology testing at Brunei’s new demonstration facility as well as to make available the resources of its Clean Energy Solutions Center to provide fundamental data for investors where to put their money across the sector.

All East Asian countries are encouraged to participate and to contribute in this workstream which will hopefully be a big step forward in sustainable energy generation in a region that is projected to grow tremendously over the years to come but has yet to lay the foundations for ecological awareness.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

Brunei Times logo

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