Turning Data into Power: APAC’s Energy Sector Can Spark the Power of a Sustainable Future

By: Shashank Luthra

The challenge the Asia Pacific (APAC) region faces is monumental, as it stands at a crossroad between burgeoning energy demands and the urgent need for decarbonization. Drastically reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is now imperative for governments, companies, and society at large to keep temperature increases to 1.5 °C above industrial levels. But there is hope: there are data-led technology solutions that we can deploy to start addressing these imperatives.

Together with the International Renewable Energy Agency, the COP28 presidency has called for widescale decarbonization, by tripling renewable power capacity and doubling current energy efficiency. Within Southeast Asia, nations have also committed to decarbonizing by 2050. Countries have produced national energy transition frameworks, yet concrete implementation plans remain up for discussion. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that Southeast Asia will need at least US$367 billion over the next five years to stay on target to meet its decarbonization commitments.  

To green the energy sector, innovation must fit within the immediate confines of APAC’s energy sector complexities. Energy is deeply linked to economic growth, but also accounts for an estimated three-quarters of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A far better way forward is balancing economic progress with industrial decarbonization to secure our lives and livelihoods for tomorrow.

Understanding the new green transformation

Decarbonization presents the opportunity to green the entire energy value chain without widescale disruptions. Industrial decarbonization involves designing and building new clean energy assets to capitalize on up-and-coming market opportunities. At the same time, existing operations can be optimized for better efficiency and sustainability. Creating this greener future rests on the transformative power of data-led technologies in combination with human insight.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 70% of new value created in the global economy over the next decade is likely to be based on digitally-enabled business platforms. Existing digital technologies can deliver up to 20% of the reductions in energy consumption needed to achieve the International Energy Agency’s 2050 net-zero trajectories.

Transforming the energy industry

Advanced data management solutions in the cloud can speed the uptake of clean energy technology solutions that have proven their commercial viability. In Australia, one of our customers uses a data-centric approach to manage the hundreds of wind turbines in its power grid. By combining information on weather, energy demand, and turbine performance with operational data, this energy provider has better visibility of wind vane performance, leading to a four-month return on investment based on overall production efficiency gains. In just one pre-emptive “catch”, it avoided an outage that would have cost A$50-70 million (approximately US$33-46 million).

Based on estimates by the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre, overall energy demand for the six biggest economies in the Southeast Asian region is projected to increase by 218% based on existing trends in technology development, deployment, and policy frameworks. By streamlining costs and resources with green technology, the sector can produce energy at scale in sustainable ways. This is one tangible way the private sector enterprises in the energy sector can have incremental impact on Asia Pacific’s broad commitment to decarbonizing by 2050.

Making sustainability the norm

APAC’s energy infrastructure can be reimagined and incrementally reconfigured to create new economic and public value. This will require both engineering hardware and software innovations. Bringing advanced algorithms and data analytics together within a connected ecosystem is the first of many possible steps. These provide the industrial intelligence that energy business leaders need to build safe, cleaner, and agile operations in the future. When internal and external teams are collaborating around a digital source of truth, they can innovate business processes, operating with a broader global perspective.

Driven in part by national aspirations, broader macroeconomic needs, and regulatory responses, greener ways of doing business will become the norm. Data-led technologies represent the common ground – meeting practical needs for operational efficiency together with the aspiration of purposeful industrialization in defined and measurable ways. And the good news is that these technologies can be deployed rapidly and on top of existing digital infrastructure. The APAC energy industry should seize the opportunity to decarbonize operations and keep pace with forward-looking industrial policies and technologies.  

Shashank Luthra is Vice President, Southeast Asia, AVEVA