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India-US collaboration in the energy sector offers great potential; ministers agree to identify various aspects of technical assistance

Washington D.C., Sept.22: Power and Energy Ministers of India and United States have in principle agreed that bilateral collaboration in the energy sector offers great potential, and therefore, have agreed to identify various aspects for technical assistance between the two countries, both in the short and long term.

The in principle understanding was reached during the India-US Ministerial Energy Dialogue, which was held here on September 21, at the US Department of Energy.

The Indian delegation was led by Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, while the American delegation was led by U.S. Energy Secretary Dr Ernest Moniz.

A media release after the conclusion of the talks said that during the dialogue, both ministers reviewed the progress made by the six Working Groups of the Energy Dialogue and identified new areas for cooperation. They also reviewed various energy-related issues agreed in the India-U.S. Joint Statement during President Obama’s visit to India in January 2015.

Minister Goyal stressed on the objective of the Government of India to provide 24×7 power across India by 2019 by creating a cost-effective infrastructure which was sustainable and inclusive of clean energy solutions.

He emphasized that India was committed to pursue a green path to growth. He also elaborated on India’s ambitious plans for deployment of 175 GW Renewable Power capacities by 2022, including 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of Wind, which may require investment of around USD 150 billion in the next seven years.

He also expounded on the Indian Government’s objective of constructing 100 smart cities, which would include in its blueprint adequate provisions for power generation, usage of renewables and energy efficiency technologies, comprehensive waste management programme; usage of waste to energy technologies etc.

He pointed out that India-US collaboration in the energy sector offered great potential, in view of India’s enormous energy needs and the US’s resources, capabilities and technology. He also welcomed U.S.-based companies to invest in the Indian energy sector and invited them to also participate in India’s unconventional hydrocarbons sector, especially in the field of exploration and exploitation of alternate energy sources such as shale oil, shale gas and gas hydrates.

The media release further went on to say that during the dialogue, both sides made presentations on progress made under various joint research programme like the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy – Research (PACE – R), including in the field of solar energy, energy efficient buildings and bio-fuels.

It was agreed that substantial headway has been made for the development of new technologies for distributed power generation through solar thermal route and development of new tools for improved building energy efficiency codes. It was also agreed to explore addition of smart grids and energy storage for grid application as the fourth stream under PACE – R.

Presentations were also made on various aspects of integration of clean energy sources into existing energy infrastructure in India, as well as mechanisms for promoting financing for clean energy and cleaner fossil energy sources.

During the dialogue, avenues for advancing off-grid clean energy access were also discussed in depth.

Bearing in mind the commitment of both countries to climate change, the focus of the meeting also revolved on various dimensions of clean energy in order to ensure that people have access to adequate and affordable energy for better quality of life and sustainable livelihood.

While capturing the activities of the Energy Dialogue in the last 10 years, both minister’s recognised that this was an appropriate forum for India and the US to identify various aspects of technical assistance in the energy sector as well as launch of pilot projects which can be scaled up at a later stage.

The Indian delegation appreciated the activities of DOE, USAID and USTDA in various aspects of the energy sector in India, especially for technical assistance in research, data collection, development of various regulations as well as for improving energy efficiency appliances.

The need to develop a robust energy data management system to develop better simulation of the energy scenario in India in the future was also recognised.

Prior to the ministerial dialogue, all six Working Groups under the Energy Dialogue held extensive deliberations on September 16-18, 2015. The six Working Groups included Working Groups on a) Coal, b) New Technology and Renewable Energy, c) Petroleum and Natural Gas, d) Power and Energy Efficiency, e) Sustainable Development and f) Partnership to Advance Clean Energy – Research (PACE -R).

The energy dialogue was seen as an affirmation of the fact that both countries have a strong commitment to collaborate in the energy sector and promote greater technological innovation, scientific collaboration, trade, research and development, deploying environment-friendly technologies and products, and promote sound regulatory frameworks to deliver energy solutions for sustainable growth.