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The tokenisation powered green surge in Southeast Asia

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By Alex Hong

· 16 min read

The energy landscape of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is at a turning point. Progress towards electrification is hampered because income disparity is maintained by centralised networks, low consumer participation, and high upfront expenditures associated with renewable energy projects. This study investigates the revolutionary possibilities of tokenization, utilising blockchain technology to transform the delivery of energy throughout ASEAN. Tokenization may hasten the region's shift to a sustainable and inclusive energy future with reduced costs, better rural electrification, and easier access to capital for innovation by democratising ownership, increasing transparency, and empowering consumers.

Powering the ASEAN green surge: How tokenisation can unlock a sustainable energy future

One of the biggest challenges facing ASEAN is striking a balance between environmental responsibility and economic progress. The advancement of a sustainable future is impeded by traditional energy models, which are largely dependent on fossil fuels and have problems with electrification in rural areas. But a revolutionary breakthrough—tokenization—powered by blockchain technology offers a game-changing chance. Tokenization has the potential to be a potent accelerator for ASEAN's green energy surge by strengthening consumer empowerment, democratising investment, and promoting transparency. In the end, tokenization will pave the way for a more secure, equitable, and sustainable energy future for the region and may even spark a global green energy revolution. This commentary explores the multifaceted potential of tokenization, highlighting its capacity to unlock energy access, empower consumers, accelerate innovation, and modernise the grid.

I. Unveiling tokenisation: a digital key to sustainable and affordable energy

The world's energy scene is at a turning point. The advancement towards a sustainable future is impeded by the constraints of conventional models, despite the critical need for inexpensive and sustainable energy. This is especially true in places like Southeast Asia (ASEAN), where major obstacles include low rural electrification, large upfront expenditures for renewable projects, and customer exclusion. But a ground-breaking remedy is on the rise: tokenization, enabled by blockchain technology, provides a digital key to opening the door to a more economical and sustainable energy future.

Democratization of investment and reduced costs: 

Large-scale renewable energy projects frequently need significant capital outlays, which deters smaller backers and impedes project advancement. In order to attain net-zero emissions by 2030, developing nations must invest USD 1.3 trillion year in renewable energy, according to a 2023 research published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Tokenization provides a potent remedy. It enables fractional ownership by generating digital tokens, or representations, of energy assets, such wind turbines and solar farms. More investors, including private citizens and smaller organisations, will now be able to participate in this. According to a World Bank study, tokenization might result in up to 25% more money being invested in renewable energy projects by 2025. This would result in a significant reduction in project costs overall because of the variety of funding sources available.

Powering Remote Communities with Decentralized Solutions: 

Millions of people lack access to consistent electricity because traditional grid infrastructure finds it difficult to reach remote locations. According to World Bank estimates, 789 million people worldwide do not have access to electricity, with a large proportion of these individuals living in rural areas. Investment in decentralised renewable energy solutions, such as microgrids, is encouraged by tokenization. Underserved areas can receive inexpensive, clean power from these small-scale solar or wind-powered systems. 

Transparency, trust, and empowered consumers: 

Tokenization with blockchain records' immutability promotes accountability and trust. The permanent recording of transactions and ownership lowers the possibility of fraud and inefficiencies that are common in conventional energy markets. This openness draws in investors and brings down the cost of funding. Additionally, tokenization gives customers additional leverage. People can make direct investments in nearby renewable energy projects, which could yield rewards and help create a cleaner electricity grid. In order to generate cash and encourage public participation in renewable energy initiatives, a pilot project in Brooklyn, New York, allowed locals to invest in a community solar farm using token (Brooklyn Microgrid). 

Fuelling innovation for a sustainable future: 

Clean energy technology must be continuously innovated to meet the demands of the present energy scenario. Tokenization opens up new channels for financing these developments. Tokenized assets are a useful tool for researchers and start-ups to generate money and create new ideas more quickly. One notable example is the Brazilian business Moss Earth, which funds rainforest conservation initiatives through tokenization. Tokens representing planted trees are bought by investors to promote environmental sustainability and fight climate change.

Beyond ASEAN: a global catalyst for change

Tokenization has revolutionary potential that goes well beyond ASEAN. Developed countries who are struggling with outdated grid infrastructure can take use of tokenization's decentralised solutions. Tokenization can also be used by areas without easy access to conventional financing to draw funding for renewable energy projects, hastening the transition to a sustainable future. 

The Road ahead: collaboration and regulatory frameworks

To fully realise the benefits of tokenization, cooperation is needed. Establishing clear legal frameworks and fostering innovation require collaboration between governments, energy providers, technological businesses, and financial institutions. Standardized tokenization protocols will be crucial for facilitating secure and efficient cross-border energy transactions.

Tokenization is a philosophical shift as much as a technology advancement. It gives consumers more control over their investments, promotes transparency, and provides a digital key to open the door to more economical and sustainable energy sources in the future. Adopting tokenization offers a potent chance to hasten the shift to a clean energy future for everybody as we negotiate this pivotal point in the global energy landscape.Dopel 

II. Tokenization: A catalyst for sustainable energy transformation in ASEAN

In the energy industry, ASEAN faces a significant obstacle. Millions of people in the area struggle with a reliance on fossil fuels, and millions lack access to stable energy. But ASEAN has a rare chance to address these issues and quicken its shift to a sustainable energy future thanks to a game-changing technology called tokenization. Tokenization can be a potent driver for ASEAN's sustainable development by enabling investment, empowering communities, and encouraging the uptake of clean energy.

Empowering remote communities with decentralised solutions:

One of the biggest obstacles to the growth of ASEAN is the lack of energy in rural areas. According to World Bank estimates, 133 million people in Southeast Asia lack access to electricity, which has a negative impact on both quality of life and economic growth. Investment in decentralised renewable energy solutions, such as microgrids, is encouraged by tokenization. Underserved areas can receive inexpensive, clean power from these small-scale solar or wind-powered systems. Tokenization was used in a project by Electrify Asia in Laos to finance a solar microgrid that supplied electricity to more than 1,500 houses, illustrating the practical impact on energy availability.

The ability for economies to enable their citizens to be electrified will create new opportunities for more people to seek employment, innovate, learn and communicate with everyone. Electrification is a sign of progress and should be a right for everyone in ASEAN. 

Democratizing energy ownership and fostering inclusion.

Due to their large upfront costs, traditional energy markets sometimes exclude small investors and individuals. Tokenization facilitates individual participation in the energy market by allowing fractional ownership of energy assets through digital tokens. Economic inclusion is facilitated by this democratisation of ownership, especially in rural areas. Local renewable projects are available for residents to invest in, maybe yielding revenue in return and cleaning up the grid in the process. 

More energy tokens will be launched in the near future to enable individuals to have access to energy markets and empowers communities to electrify their way towards prosperity and to have a stake in their shared future. Tokenization can provide that platform for energy creation and transmission to thrive while keeping in line with needs of the people and to achieve greater sustainability. 

Accelerating digitalization and smart grid development:

Tokenization makes it easier to integrate energy with blockchain technology, which opens the door to creative digital solutions for energy usage and administration. Smart grids have the potential to optimise resource allocation and increase energy efficiency through peer-to-peer energy trading enabled by tokenized energy systems and real-time data interchange. The potential of tokenization for the development of smart grids was proved by a pilot study conducted in Thailand by Power Ledger. The initiative demonstrated a more effective and decentralised energy management system by enabling households to trade rooftop solar energy using tokens.

The expansion of smart grids throughout ASEAN and beyond will create great energy resilience and provide energy security for all. It will also present and opportunity for countries to collaborate with each other towards energy security goals an promote regional stability. 

Facilitating sustainability and achieving environmental goals:


It is imperative that ASEAN switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in order to meet its targets for environmental sustainability. The adoption of sustainable energy sources is accelerated via tokenization, which provides incentives for investment in renewable energy projects. This change in the energy mix has the potential to ameliorate climate change and drastically lower carbon footprints. 

Tokenization is one way in which we can accelerate the potential for economies, corporations to work together for share sustainability and environmental goals. Tokens backed by energy can emerge as the most valuable community known to mankind as it will be the new driving force for all economies/societies in place of the “black gold” what we have so accustomed to.

The road ahead: embracing the potential

A multifaceted strategy is essential for ASEAN to fully reap the benefits of tokenization's revolutionary potential. To promote innovation and safeguard investors, governments must provide transparent and encouraging regulatory frameworks. Establishing uniform tokenization techniques for safe and effective cross-border energy transactions requires cooperation between energy suppliers, tech firms, and financial institutions. To give stakeholders the information and abilities they need to successfully navigate this new energy landscape, investments in education and capacity building are also essential.

Tokenization is more than just a financial breakthrough; it's an engine for ASEAN's transition to a more egalitarian and sustainable energy future. Tokenization has the potential to open a better future for the area by democratising energy ownership, empowering people, and hastening the adoption of sustainable energy sources. With the adoption of this technology and promotion of cooperation, ASEAN has the ability to lead the world in the sustainable energy revolution.

III. Unlocking the potential of the ASEAN power grid: a call to collaborative action

It is indisputable that tokenization has the ability to drastically change the energy environment in ASEAN. However, cooperation across many stakeholders is essential to realising this promise and securing a sustainable energy future.

Leadership and strategic vision:

The governments of ASEAN need to look into tokenization as a means of grid modernization, international energy cooperation, and regional integration. To evaluate the technology's viability, pinpoint regulatory gaps, and create thorough frameworks, specialised task groups and research projects must be established. The World Economic Forum recently released a report that emphasises the need for clear legal frameworks and strong government leadership for the successful adoption of blockchain technology. It can be very beneficial for other ASEAN countries to learn from such successful cases as Singapore's Project Ubin, a pilot project investigating blockchain applications in the energy sector.

Standardization for seamless transactions:

It is imperative to establish regional guidelines for tokenized energy assets. Ensuring interoperability across borders through standardised protocols will enable safe and effective cross-border energy transactions. As a result, the local energy market is strengthened and investment and resource optimisation are encouraged. With the use of knowledge from regional and global organisations, the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) may be a crucial player in promoting standardisation initiatives.

Uniting stakeholders for collective success:

Harnessing the transformative potential of tokenization for ASEAN's energy sector necessitates a collaborative approach. A robust tokenized energy ecosystem demands the collective effort of a diverse set of stakeholders, each playing a crucial role in driving this revolution.

a) The symphony of stakeholders:

  • Governments: Strong leadership and clear regulatory frameworks are essential for fostering innovation and investor confidence. Collaboration between governments and other stakeholders is paramount in establishing these frameworks.

  • For instance, the World Economic Forum's report, "Blockchain and the Future of Infrastructure," underscores the importance of government leadership for successful blockchain implementation, a core element of tokenization. This highlights the need for a collaborative approach with clear regulatory guidance.

  • Ulities: As the backbone of the energy grid, utilities need to embrace tokenization to enhance efficiency and empower consumers. Collaborative efforts between utilities and technology companies will be crucial for developing and integrating tokenized solutions.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) report titled "Unlocking the Potential of Blockchain for Southeast Asia" emphasizes collaboration across stakeholders, including utilities, for unlocking the potential of blockchain technology in the energy sector.

  • Technology companies: Providing the technical backbone, technology companies must develop secure and user-friendly platforms for tokenization. Collaboration with other stakeholders will ensure these platforms cater to the specific needs of the energy sector.

Organizations like the Energy Web Foundation act as catalysts for collaboration. They facilitate knowledge sharing and foster public-private partnerships (PPPs) aimed at accelerating the adoption of blockchain technology for a sustainable energy future.

  • Financial institutions: Their involvement is crucial for channelling investments into tokenized energy projects. Collaboration between financial institutions and other stakeholders will ensure efficient and secure financing mechanisms.

Industry associations like the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and consortiums like the R3 Consortium bring diverse stakeholders together to explore blockchain applications. This fosters knowledge exchange, promotes best practices, and ultimately strengthens the financial underpinnings of tokenized energy systems.

b) From collaboration to regional leadership:

While a specific project announcement for regional collaboration on standardized protocols isn't currently available, the focus on innovation within ASEAN is promising. Industry events like the Token2049 serve as platforms for collaboration. Examining past reports and attending future events can reveal insights into ongoing discussions or collaborative efforts related to tokenization standards and regional adoption.

The "ASEAN Digital Transformation Masterplan 2021-2025" highlights a regional commitment to innovation and collaboration. This suggests a fertile ground for developing standardized protocols for a tokenized energy future in ASEAN. 

By fostering collaboration across stakeholder groups and harnessing the collective ingenuity of ASEAN nations, the region can unlock the powerhouse potential of tokenization. This will not only illuminate ASEAN's own energy future but also serve as a beacon for other developing regions striving towards a sustainable energy future.

The benefits of tokenization for ASEAN countries are substantial:

  • Increased investment in renewable energy infrastructure: By permitting partial (fractional) ownership of renewable energy projects, tokenization can draw in a larger group of investors, including smaller organisations and private investors. Tokenization has the potential to accelerate the transition of emerging economies towards clean energy by up to 20%, according to a study conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

  • Enhanced grid efficiency and resilience: Grid resilience can be increased by using decentralised energy solutions made possible by tokenization. By reducing reliance on centralised power plants, microgrids supplied by renewable energy sources can lessen the grid's vulnerability to external interruptions and single points of failure. Furthermore, tokenized systems enable real-time data sharing that can optimise energy management and minimise transmission losses, resulting in a grid that is more efficient.

  • Empowering consumers and fostering inclusion: Through tokenization, customers can take an active role in the energy market. People can make investments in nearby renewable energy projects, which could increase their earnings and make the grid cleaner. This strengthens communities and promotes energy democracy, especially in rural areas. One example could be a project in Vietnam that the business Regen worked on. Regen encourages community ownership and involvement in renewable energy production by allowing anyone to purchase rooftop solar panels using tokens.

  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuels and a cleaner energy future: Tokenization helps create a cleaner energy mix and a more sustainable future for ASEAN by providing incentives for the use of renewable energy. Lower carbon emissions from a decreased reliance on fossil fuels help to mitigate climate change and advance ASEAN's environmental objectives.

A collective leap towards sustainability

Now is the moment to take action. Through promoting cooperation, accepting responsibility, and putting in place efficient structures, ASEAN may utilise tokenization to uncover more promising energy prospects. Increased investment in renewable energy, a more robust and efficient grid, empowered consumers, and ultimately a cleaner and more sustainable ASEAN are the hallmarks of this future. By moving together towards a tokenized energy landscape, ASEAN has the potential to lead the world in combating climate change and serve as an example for other developing nations.

IV. Conclusion: Tokenization - The powerhouse for a sustainable ASEAN

The world's energy scene is reaching a turning point. Traditional methods find it difficult to keep up with the growing demand for inexpensive, clean energy. But tokenization, a cutting-edge technology, shows promise as a major force behind ASEAN's transition to a more secure, sustainable, and egalitarian energy system. In order to pave the path for regional and worldwide leadership in the green energy revolution, ASEAN must embrace this innovation and promote cooperation in order to open up a new era of energy access, consumer empowerment, innovation, and grid modernization.

A brighter future, illuminated by sustainable energy:

  • Energy access for all: Tokenization encourages investment in distributed renewable energy systems, such as microgrids, which supply inexpensive, clean power to remote locations that are now underserved by conventional grids. In addition to enhancing quality of life and empowering rural communities, this promotes economic development. Tokenization was used in an Indian project by Gramme Power to finance a solar microgrid that supplied electricity to more than 2,000 families, illustrating the revolutionary effect on energy access.

  • Empowering consumers for a cleaner grid: Through tokenization, people can take an active role in the energy market. Through token investments in regional renewable initiatives, users can both make money and improve the grid's cleanliness. This encourages energy democracy and gives communities—especially those in rural areas—the power to take charge of their own energy destiny. Through a SunPower project in Indonesia, anyone can use tokens to purchase rooftop solar panels, encouraging community involvement in the production of renewable energy.

  • Fuelling innovation for a sustainable future: Clean energy technology innovation must be ongoing given the state of the energy industry today. Tokenization opens up new ways to finance these innovations. Tokenized assets can be used by researchers and start-ups to raise money, hastening the creation of novel solutions. Regen Network, a global network that uses tokenization to finance carbon offset and renewable energy projects, is one recent example of how this cutting-edge financial instrument may be used to drive sustainability.

  • Modernizing the grid for enhanced efficiency and security: Smart grids are made possible by the tokenization of electricity and blockchain integration. By facilitating peer-to-peer energy trade and real-time data exchange, these grids optimise resource allocation and advance energy efficiency. Furthermore, by reducing reliance on centralised power plants, tokenization promotes decentralised energy production, strengthening the grid's resilience against external disturbances and single points of failure. Power Ledger's experiment in Australia showed how tokenization could be used to further smart grid technology. Through the use of tokens, the initiative enabled peer-to-peer energy trading between homes, demonstrating a more effective and decentralised energy management system.

A call to action: collaboration for regional and global leadership

There is no denying tokenization's revolutionary potential for ASEAN. But it necessitates working together. To promote innovation and safeguard investors, governments must provide transparent and encouraging regulatory frameworks. To create uniform tokenization methods for safe and effective cross-border energy transactions, cooperation between energy suppliers, tech firms, financial institutions, and research centres is crucial. To give stakeholders the information and abilities they need to successfully navigate this new energy landscape, investments in education and capacity building are also essential.

ASEAN has the chance to lead the world in the green energy revolution by embracing tokenization and promoting cooperation. Its energy grid, economy, and social well-being will all benefit from this leadership, which will also serve as a model for other emerging nations aiming to achieve sustainability. Now is the moment to take action. Let ASEAN take advantage of this chance to unleash tokenization's powerhouse for a more sustainable future for everybody.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Alex Hong is a Director at AEIR (Singapore), part of Sync Neural Genesis AG, spearheading innovations in wireless energy. He serves as the Ambassador of Southeast Asia for the Global Blockchain Business Council and chairs blockchain initiatives at the Global Sustainability Foundation Network. Appointed as LinkedIn’s Top Voices (Green) since 2022, Alex is a leading ESG thought leader. Additionally, he is the Chief Sustainability Coordinator at YNBC, advisory board member for the Green Computing Foundation and the European Carbon Offset Tokenization Association (ECOTA) Expert.


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