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Workshop on Renewable Energy Transition Discusses Role of Energy Trade, Cooperation between South and Southeast Asia

21 December 2022

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New Delhi, 21 December 2022: How the green transition can be mainstreamed, the energy transition accelerated, and transition financing made more urgent and inclusive were the main topics of the Renewable Energy Transition workshop held on 21 December 2022. The workshop, organised by the Energy Resources Institute (TERI), was under the aegis of Think Tank 20 (T20), an ‘idea bank’ of the Group of Twenty (G20), which brings together think tanks and experts to discuss policy issues relevant to the G20.

Presented and discussed at the workshop were the key findings of the Study on Regional Energy Trade between South and South East Asia by the Energy Research Institutes Network (ERIN) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

The event was opened by Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General of TERI, and Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Director of Research Strategy and Innovation of ERIA. The study findings were presented by Mr Saswata Chaudhury, Senior Fellow, TERI, followed by two panel discussions moderated by Mr R R Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, and Dr Anbumozhi. The former moderated the Realizing the Potential of Regional Cooperation in Renewable Energy Trade in South Asia session whilst the latter moderated the Challenges and Opportunities for Regional Energy Cooperation session. Other speakers of the workshop were Dr Selim Raihan, Executive Director, South Asian Network on Economic Modeling;  Dr Ritu Mathur, Consultant, NITI Aayog; Dr Nitya Nanda, Director, Council for Social Development; Dr Arpita Mukherjee, Professor,  Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations; Dr S Borbora, Professor, India Institute of Technology Guwahati; Dr Prabir De, Professor,  Research and Information System for Developing Countries; Dr Paras Kharel, Executive Director, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment; and Dr P Sengprasong, Senior Lecturer, National University of Laos.

The ERIA–ERIN study analysed the current patterns, estimated potentials, and economic costs of technologies used to support renewable energy grid integration, and examined the operational experiences in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The panel discussions focused on the various technical, regulatory, and financial barriers for energy trade in South and Southeast Asia despite their huge renewable energy potential. The participants saw several potential opportunities  that can help integrate variable renewable energy into power systems across the border. They identified in mini-grids two immediate applications for innovative technologies and operation modes for the integration of high shares of solar photovoltaics and wind energy. They agreed that any economic analysis of the transition towards a renewables-based energy trade should always consider the total system costs, including social and environmental benefits.

The participants acknowledged that as the Group of Twenty (G20) countries are preparing to decarbonise their economies, a shift in energy trade patterns could be accelerated by promoting technology transfer and building storage infrastructure. As all of South and Southeast Asia primarily depend on the import of renewable energy products such as solar modules, energy storage, and others, the participants believed that intra-regional cooperation and trade facilitation not only benefit the participating countries but also provide some spill-over benefits to the entire region.

The ERIA–ERIN study report will be finalised based on the comments from the workshop, and a policy brief will be prepared for T20. The recommendations contained in the T20 policy brief will be synthesised and presented to G20 working groups, ministerial meetings, and leaders’ summit to help the G20 deliver concrete policy measures.

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