Achieving Energy Accessibility in Asia

Since the industrial revolution, the energy system has expanded to provide for prosperity and a quality of life that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted.

Energy creates economic, social, and individual opportunity. And it ensures we continue to help lift people out of energy poverty. But this is not the case everywhere.

In recent years, conversations about climate have intensified, innovation and technology have accelerated, and the energy system that underpins our global economy has continued to evolve, alongside the expectations of stakeholders and customers.

As populations grow, the world is going to need more energy. We must make this energy accessible to more people. And we must do so with ever cleaner energy.

The energy of the future will not be one thing. Energy conservation will play a role and renewables will become commercially available and important. Natural gas will underpin this transition, ensuring energy security and providing a lower carbon fuel. It will deliver this not years from now, but today.

Nations are at radically different points around their development of the climate change curve, with different energy needs and economic needs. Nowhere is that more clear than in Asia. The challenge across this region is immense.

Asia-Pacific is one of the world’s most vibrant, youthful, and fastest-growing economic regions. It is home to 3 of the world’s top 6 economies. But it is also home to 10 of the world’s 20 smallest economies.

With regional energy demand forecast to grow almost 20 per cent by 2050, Asia-Pacific is going to represent around 50 per cent of the world’s energy demand and 50 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

A simple translation is that Asia-Pacific is going to need a lot more energy.

To make this a reality, unprecedented levels of partnership and collaboration will be needed to provide the right solutions at the right costs. To date, more than 30 Asia-Pacific countries have set carbon-reduction targets under the Paris Agreement.

Based on current commitments from governments throughout the region, natural gas demand is expected to grow 38 per cent between 2020 and 2050, underlining its critical role as part of the energy transition. Natural gas can help displace coal, decarbonise the energy system, and ensure an affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy source that supports a lower carbon transition.

Don’t skip the middle chapters

Recently I was proud to announce the formation of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (Angea).

Angea has been formed to encourage collaboration, establish sound policy and to work in partnership with governments and other associations to deliver energy solutions. It will facilitate an open, honest dialogue with decision-makers about pragmatic, achievable goals. It brings together energy producers, consumers, suppliers, and service companies that have combined capabilities to deliver solutions.

Energy companies, and the people who work for them, have created technologies that have proved their ability to reduce emissions. These are in place and working today. And they are practical and realistic.

Through collaboration and a focus on reducing carbon emissions with reliable energy sources, Angea can help countries deliver the key economic, environmental, and societal benefits so necessary across the region.

There are important decisions to be made to provide citizens with access to reliable energy, the foundation of economic progress. Alongside collaboration, it will take effective policies, investment, and regulations, to ensure we provide for today’s needs as well as for the future.

Today, many people want to write the first and the last chapter of the energy system transition book and skip the middle chapters.

But these next chapters – on what we must do and how we do it – are very important.

We do not live in an “all or nothing” world. We live in a world that must balance the needs of today with the ambitions of tomorrow, which include energy security and net-zero aspirations.

Only by weighing all options, and working together, will we be able to provide more energy to more people across Asia, to meet today’s needs and prepare us for the future.

Written by Nigel Hearne, president, Chevron Eurasia Pacific Exploration and Production, and chairman, Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association.