There is an important need to focus on the development of energy infrastructure and services in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region to improve its energy accessibility via renewable sources.
This was said by the Permanent Secretary (Downstream and Power) at the Prime Minister’s Office, DatoPaduka Haji Jamain bin Haji Julaihi in a speech while officiating the opening ceremony of the 3rd BIMP-EAGA Power and Energy Infrastructure Cluster (PEIC) meeting yesterday.
The Energy Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO) is hosting the two-day meeting, which is being attended by delegates from Malaysia and the Philippines, and also includes representatives from relevant agencies such as the BIMP Facilitation Centre, Asian Development Bank and the BIMP-EAGA Business Council.
“Our, sub-region is endowed with energy resources where a significant capacity is still untapped. Not just conventional energy; our renewable energy resources are also very encouraging in this area,” said the permanent secretary. “Thus, there is an important need to focus on the development of energy infrastructure and services to ensure that these resources can be utilised to improve energy accessibility in BIMP-EAGA.”
“Today, some of our region has only 71 per cent electrification rate (Mindanao) and the highest electrification rate besides Brunei Darussalam is Sarawak with 91 per cent,” he continued. “We must strive to continue to increase the access to basic electricity in BIMP-EAGA by emphasising on rural electrification that is sourced by renewable energy.”
He shared, as an example, that the TenagaSuria Brunei photovoltaic plant can be utilised for further research in view that the countries’ climatic conditions are quite similar.
In his speech, the permanent secretary also highlighted that, since its establishment in 2013, the PEIC has become one of the key clusters in BIMP-EAGA and this is attributed mainly to the area’s energy resources that hold significant opportunities for cooperation.
Its fundamental focus on increasing energy security in the sub-region is a principle shared by all four countries of BIMP-EAGA at a national level, he said.
“This cluster indeed can be an effective platform for us to collaborate towards this goal at a smaller, achievable sub-regional level.”
Brunei Darussalam, he said, is honoured to host this year’s annual dialogue. “We hope to bring about substantial discussions that are action-based, sustainable and non-repetitive to the other established regional bodies.”
“It is important that we focus on agendas that will benefit our sub-region by leveraging on the strengths that we have being within close proximity to each other, among others.”
With ongoing activities under Asean Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation (APAEC) and under the Asean Power Grid (APG) and Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline (TAGP), he highlighted that it is important for them to collaborate with the relevant fora under the Asean Ministers of Energy Meeting (AMEM) purview to ensure that our efforts complement each other.
The permanent secretary also encouraged the Cluster to explore and engage existing fora. He suggested, as an example, the Renewable and Alternative Power Generation Workstream under the East Asia Summit Energy Cooperation Task Force that Brunei and the United States are currently co-chairing and collaborating on to leverage ongoing projects on electrification and other renewable energy technologies.
Adding on, he said, “Our ongoing efforts for interconnection in the sub-region as part of the Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline and Asean Power Grid are commendable and our continuous effort is crucial for the realisation of the next APAEC 2016-2020.”
Also present yesterday was Engineer Syed MohamadFauziShahab, Director of Electricity Supply, Ministry of Public Utilities, Sarawak, Malaysia and Chairman of the BIMP-EAGA PEIC.
In a speech, he said, “Today’s 2015 PEIC meeting has shown increased participation from relevant stakeholders since the first meeting held in Sarawak, Malaysia in 2013 and Palawan, Philippines in 2014.”
This, he said, is “an indication that reflects the importance of the Power and Energy Infrastructure Connectivity as system’s grow within the respective member countries.”
The annual meeting includes discussions on the post-2016 PEIC Sector Roadmap, issues on emerging development and trends in the PEIC sector and their impact on BIMP-EAGA cooperation, strategies and activities that contribute to trade, tourism and investment and to narrow the development gaps in BIMP-EAGA.