(Yeo Bee Yin (center), Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, and headline Keynote speaker, helps cut ribbon to open POWERGEN Asia and Asian Utility Week Exhibition hall. Photo credit Teresa Hansen)

In a region of the world where coal is still king, there is room for renewables. This was a takeaway from the Ministerial Address and Joint Opening Keynote at POWERGEN Asia and Asian Utility Week.

The two annual events kicked off Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Shantanu Jaiswal of Bloomberg NEF set the stage for the keynote, which was titled Navigating the Energy Transition. Jaiswal presented strategies for a cleaner future, even in a country that now generates 75% of its electricity from fossil fuels.

He identified five keys to that energy transition:

  1. Renewable technologies have become the most competitive source of new electricity generation globally.
  2. Fossil fuel importance in the global electricity generation industry is decreasing.
  3. The future power systems will be more volatile.
  4. The future power sector will have more flexibility, which will be necessary to ensure reliable grid operation and performance.
  5. Utilities of the future will provide much more than just electricity.

Jaiswal went as far as to predict that by 2050, 50% of global electricity will be sourced from renewable energy. Fossil fuels will “support” renewables, he said.

As he concluded his presentation, Jaiswal challenged the audience to think differently when planning for the future. He told them rather than ask, “What will be the biggest change in the next 10 years?”, instead ask this more important question, “What will not change in the next 10 years?”

Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, closed out the Keynote session with the Ministerial Address. She spoke about the need for more collaboration between her organization and the country’s utilities to provide more sustainable energy. Minister Yin said that collaboration between countries in the region also is needed to allow electricity produced in one country to be sold to other countries, an effort that must include regional regulatory framework, as well as technology-enabled infrastructure.

Minister Yin stressed that her office is working to create a regulatory environment that encourages and incentivizes investment in clean, renewable energy and cutting-edge technologies. As she closed her presentation, she talked about what motivates her.

“I believe energy is an enabler of a better economy. It is an enabler of a better life for people now and in generations to come,” Minister Yin said. “The electricity industry makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Other Keynote speakers were Datuk Fazlur Rahman, Chief Strategy and Regulatory Officer for Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia’s electric utility, and Richard Ireland, Managing Director for Clarion Energy in Asia.

POWERGEN Asia and Asian Utility Week are part of Clarion Energy’s Power and Energy Series of Events and sister events to POWERGEN International and DISTRIBUTECH International, respectively.