The ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) represent one of the most dynamic parts of the global energy system, with their energy demand growing by 60% in the past 15 years. ASEAN countries are at various stages of economic development and have different energy resource endowments and consumption patterns. But they also share a common challenge to meet rising demand in a secure, affordable and sustainable manner. Ensuring sufficient investment in energy supply and energy efficiency is central to this task. These countries have made major efforts in recent years to upgrade policy frameworks, reform fossil-fuel consumption subsidies, increase regional co-operation and encourage greater investment in the region’s considerable renewable energy potential.
While there are many encouraging signs, much more remains to be done. Access to modern energy is incomplete. With a total population of nearly 640 million, an estimated 65 million people remain without electricity and 250 million are reliant on solid biomass as a cooking fuel. Investment in upstream oil and gas has been hit by lower prices since 2014 and the region faces a dwindling position as a gas exporter, and a rising dependency on imported oil. At the same time, energy-related air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, also presents major risks to public health, while rising carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions are contrary to the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which has been ratified by all the countries in the region. Our analysis in this World Energy Outlook (WEO) Special Report confirms that Southeast Asian countries are looking towards a future in which energy demand is set to grow strongly. Our aim in this analysis is to provide a framework for understanding the region’s energy choices, examining the pitfalls and opportunities that lie ahead and what different pathways might imply for future energy security, the environment and economic development.