APAC energy leaders identify 7 key trends for sustainability
More than 2,500 regional and global business leaders, policy makers and government representatives across the energy sector came together for the first-ever Siemens Asia Pacific Energy Week to discuss regional challenges and opportunities.
Held virtually March 9-10, the focus of this year’s event, Shaping the Energy of Tomorrow, was all about fostering an ecosystem of collaboration and co-creation between stakeholders within Asia Pacific to help meet the world's sustainability goals, boost economic growth, create new jobs and industries, improve human welfare and attain carbon neutrality by 2050.
7 key trends for energy sector to focus on
Following a lineup of panel sessions and discussions, energy leaders arrived at 7 key trends that the sector should focus on for a successful transition towards a sustainable energy future.
- Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply is a necessity for economic growth
- Ramp up the contribution of renewable energy for long-term sustainability
- Utilize technology for efficient and cleaner use of energy
- Embrace emerging and cleaner energy resources like Green Hydrogen
- Digitalisation and AI-driven technologies will form the core of a future-proof and efficient transmission system
- Access to sustainable, competitive capital will accelerate the energy transformation journey
- Collaboration among stakeholders is imperative for the transformation of the energy landscape
APAC accounts for half of global energy consumption
As the world’s fastest growing economic region, Asia Pacific is witnessing increasing urbanisation, rising population and with it, huge energy demands.
With Asia Pacific accounting for more than half of global energy consumption, and with 10% of the population still lacking access to basic electricity, “the question is how to bridge into an affordable, reliable and sustainable power supply, while improving energy access," says Christian Bruch, President and CEO, Siemens Energy.
As prices of renewables decline and grid stabilisation technology advances, accelerating the contribution of renewable sources makes economic sense and will also drive long-term sustainability for the region.
Governments can contribute with policies and regulations driving this change, and the industry can translate emerging business strategies into practical busines models, as well as develop reliable projects and drive technological innovations. To step up the energy transition, all stakeholders must join forces and work towards the transformation.
Key energy event takeaways
Audience engagement during the event further revealed some vital insights on energy transition in the region:
- More than 45% of the participants indicated that cost was a major hurdle followed by willingness for energy transition at nearly 25%
- Over 66% identified renewable integration as the most impactful decarbonisation element
- 48% voted that a breakthrough in energy storage will accelerate energy transition
- 75% of participants would be willing to pay a premium for CO2 free energy, and...
- Policy and regulation will be a key motivator.
Asia-Pacific seeing surge in cleantech-focused VC funds
Cleantech became one of the hottest investment sectors among VCs a decade ago with cleantech VC deal volumes doubling between 2005-2007, according to Brookings Cleantech Venture Capital report. And while the global recession in 2007-2008 halted many investments in cleantech, the sector has gained traction over the last few years.
Asia Cleantech Capital is an early-stage investment firm focused on clean tech projects and companies in the APAC region; DreamLabs Innovation is a US$50m fund established to invest in disruptive, scalable, people-focused companies in areas including cleantech and energy; and ENGIE New Ventures runs a US$61.2m fund dedicated to making minority investment in tech startups in sustainable energy including across Asia.
More recently, in 2021, in light of the pandemic and increasing focus on sustainability, there’s been a surge of cleantech-focused VC funds being set up both globally and across Asia-Pacific with the aim of supporting startups that are developing advanced technologies to tackle global problems, whether renewable energy or food waste.
Climate Solutions Partnership unveiled
Just last week, HSBC, World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF unveiled their Climate Solutions Partnership (CSP), which aims to unlock barriers to finance for innovators developing climate solutions with a focus on startups in Asia developing carbon-cutting technologies, projects that protect and restore biodiversity, and initiatives to help the transition to renewable energy.
Backed by US$100m of philanthropic funding over five years from HSBC, and part of the banking giant’s climate strategy, this partnership will help identify future business opportunities for sustainable innovations, and mobilise finance, including helping startups and next-generation new sustainable approaches.
Spotlight on Japan and China
Set to launch this month is a new cleantech-focused fund targeting investments in Japan, Europe and the US. Sony Group, Suzuki Motor, Mizuho Bank and 15 other Japanese companies have joined forces on a startup investment fund focused on companies that are developing technologies related to digital transformation and decarbonisation.
The fund, set up by California-based VC firm World Innovation Lab (WiL) with a maximum fund size of US$911m and a lifespan of 10 years, will invest in 50-60 startups in the first 3-5 years. Focused on the environmental sector, the fund is set to invest heavily in companies with digital technology, such as software and data analysis tools that can help streamline the operations of large companies, and those developing advanced technologies to tackle global problems, from water shortages to development of plastics-free products.
And the recently launched TDK Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Japanese multinational TDK Corporation, is scouting for more industrial tech investments in Asia and especially China, following the recent close of its US$150m TDK Ventures Fund II. This fund is targeting early-stage, global investments in ‘hard tech’ spanning the advanced materials, industrial, robotics, energy, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, clean-tech and health-tech verticals.
“This new fund renews our commitment to supporting hard-tech entrepreneurs creating innovations for the greater good,” says Nicolas Sauvage, managing director, TDK Ventures. The materials science field has always been part of the technology sector’s foundation, and as such, it can help the sector address some of the world’s biggest challenges, including sustainability.”
ADB Ventures brings a more sustainable future to Asia
Back in March, ADB Ventures, the Asian Development Bank’s venture capital arm, announced its first two investments since its founding in 2020. ADB Ventures, which aims to pursue environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments in verticals such as FoodTech, AgriTech, HealthTech, FinTech and CleanTech, revealed two green investments, funding Indian electric vehicle manufacturer Euler Motors and Indian CleanTech startup Smart Joules.
The firm is currently partnered with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Climate Investment Fund, Nordic Development Fund, Korea Venture Investment Corp., and Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance to help bring a more sustainable future to Asia.
Nordic Development Fund managing director Karin Isaksson says: “ADB Ventures represents a timely complement to traditional development approaches through the involvement of the private sector in addressing critical climate change challenges. We are pleased to be working with the ADB on this important initiative that has particular relevance in the post-COVID recovery.”
And finally, while not exclusively tech-focused, last month Singapore-headquartered global gaming firm Razer announced the launch of its new (and first) sustainable US$50m fund. The Razer Green Fund aims to invest in environmental and sustainability startups with up to US$1m funding for startups in the seed and series A stages.