Multilateral projects and renewable energy can be the way forward in addressing the energy needs of the ASEAN region.

Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water Secretary-General Datuk Loo Took Gee said currently, four ASEAN countries, namely Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are discussing multilateral projects to transfer electricity from Laos to Singapore.

"The value of such a project can be seen in terms of optimisation of the use of energy resources in the region. If it is cheaper to buy, why build the power plant?" she told Bernama on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2016 here today.

A panelist at the forum, she said the success of the project can attract other ASEAN members to participate, thus creating an electricity trading market within the regional grouping.

Loo said apart from multilateral projects, renewable energy could also play an important part as a decentralised system in bringing electricity to people in isolated areas.

"Right now, about 20 per cent of the people in the ASEAN region do not have access to energy, as obviously the population is scattered within it.

"It may not make sense to have a centralised system by bringing the grid to the people.

"So, there is a strong basis for a decentralised system where renewable energy can play a very important role. There is a huge scope for renewable energy in the ASEAN region," she added.

Loo said to attract funding for such projects, ASEAN government need to come up with policies that provide certainty to investors, as well as harmonisation of the regulatory framework which currently differs from one country to another.

"Investors want to ensure their investments yield necessary returns to them," she added.