AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 46

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Session 46: Energy Policy and Security in the Asia-Pacific

Organizer: Benjamin K. Sovacool, National University of Singapore, Singapore

A rapidly developing Asia faces a multitude of interrelated energy policy and security challenges. Fuelled by unprecedented economic development, energy demand in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to more than double by the year 2030. Soaring demand for energy is in turn raising regional energy security concerns particularly for those nations that are heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels for fostering economic growth. Further compounding the situation, more than 900 million people across Asia presently lack electricity access and given rapid population growth, this number may inflate to 2.4 billion in the next 20 years. Underlying these issues is the looming specter of climate change, which could act as a threat multiplier and worsen already dire social problems such as disease epidemics, poverty, migration, and water availability. This panel explores the energy policy, sustainable development, and energy security concerns related to mega energy projects in Southeast Asia (specifically the Trans-ASEAN natural gas pipeline network), hydroelectric dams in Malaysia, the diffusion and governance of renewable energy, and national energy development in India. Papers: • Benjamin K. Sovacool (National University of Singapore), “Asian Energy Mega-Projects: Understanding the Risks and Rewards” • Scott Valentine (University of Tokyo), “Governance of Renewable Energy Diffusion” • Nandakumar Janardhanan (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, India), “Energy Security in India: Need for a Climate Sensitive Energy Policy” • Lilei Chow (Sciences Po, France), “Settling the SCORE in Malaysia: Sustainable Development and Hydropower in Southeast Asia” Discussant and Moderator: Tai Wei LIM, Hong Kong University

“Asian Energy Mega-Projects: Understanding the Risks and Rewards”
Benjamin K. Sovacool, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Multinational energy infrastructure projects, which tend to involve at least three countries, have a number of potential advantages: they enable countries to stockpile resources and avoid duplication; allow them to link infrastructure together in ways that distribute costs, create synergies, and improve market efficiencies; and can engender a shared sense of vulnerability to the risk of accidents and disruptions that can promote coordination and cooperation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has proposed a number of ambitious regional projects including the Trans-ASEAN electricity grid and Trans-ASEAN natural gas pipeline network, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been pushing multinational hydroelectric projects in the Mekong Delta as well as interstate transmission lines and interconnections. These types of projects raise unique energy security and policy concerns, and this paper will explore the status, promise, pitfalls and major transnational energy projects in Asia, and will also draw broader lessons for the energy policymaking community.

Governance of renewable energy diffusion
Scott Valentine, University of Tokyo, Japan

In all probability, by 2050 the sources from which humanity draws energy will be significantly different than they are today. Whether the prime catalyst is climate change or the depletion of economically accessible fossil fuel resources, renewable energy technologies can be expected to play an amplified role in the global energy mix of 2050. However, mainstream studies regarding the diffusion of renewable energy tend to ignore the impact that climate change may have renewable energy technology diffusion. Scenario analysis are typically made under the assumption that the earth`s climate over the next few decades will be as it is today; yet we know from scientific climate change projections that this is a highly tenuous assumption. In response to global warming, we can expect to witness changes in wind patterns, cloud cover profiles, precipitation rates, agricultural conditions and sunlight profiles, to name but a few changes. All of these changes will impact the diffusion of renewable energy from technical, economic and geographic perspectives. This study conflates prominent studies on climactic change modelling as global warming intensities with an examination of the impact that these climactic changes will have on renewable energy diffusion.

Energy Security in India: Need for a Climate Sensitive Energy Policy
Nandakumar Janardhanan, Independent Scholar, Japan

Fossil fuels constitute a significant portion of the commercial energy mix in India. The use of these fossil fuels have been on the rise for the past many years, making India vulnerable not only to the conventional energy security threats but also damaging its environmental health. Emissions from fossil fuel burning being a major component of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the conventional energy mix in India can potentially contribute to long term climate risks. Though the domestic policy advises increased share of renewable sources in the energy mix, conventional importance given to fossil fuel continue to dominate the energy sectors. To a great extent this can be attributed to the prevailing energy consumption pattern in India which depends heavily on coal and oil. A significant portion of India’s population is in rural areas, where the modern forms of energy are largely inaccessible. Growing energy demand in these regions could lead to overreliance on fossil fuels and higher energy related emissions. Taking into consideration the need to address the potential adverse effect on climate pattern India needs to ensure that the energy policy planning in the country not only has to develop effective measures to reduce energy related emissions, but also need to target a low carbon development by promoting a mix of energy sources that is climate sensitive. The paper looks into the energy security in India, and examines the need to balance the long term economic goals and environmental priorities by making a climate sensitive energy policy.

“Settling the SCORE in Malaysia: Sustainable Development and Hydropower in Southeast Asia”
Yeen Lei Chow, Sciences Po, France

In 2008 the Government of Malaysia announced the creation of five development corridors throughout the country, with the primary aim of reducing spatial and regional socioeconomic inequalities and promoting human development. This paper will investigate the sustainable development implications of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, or SCORE, a multi-billion dollar development strategy to promote industrialization and economic growth. The Sarawak state government has targeted the development of at least 70, 000 square kilometers of land, primarily occupied by forest-dependent indigenous communities, in the central region of the state and at least 20, 000MW installed capacity of electricity under SCORE. Key among the large-scale energy infrastructure projects being proposed are the development of twelve hydroelectric dams scattered across the state’s 55 rivers. The paper first discusses the linkages between the goals of sustainable development and economic development. The paper then evaluates how the proposed projects under SCORE are likely to impact these elements before offering implications for public policy as a whole. It argues that the principles of sustainable development should be the central focus of development planning. Primary data for the article will be derived from more than 70 stakeholder interviews in Sarawak and at the level of the Federal Government along with intensive original field research with affected and displaced communities and site visits to three dams: Bakun, Murum, and Batang Ai.