US-India Strategic Energy Partnership
GS-Paper-2 India and USA
Recently, India and the USA have participated in a virtual ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) to review progress, highlight major accomplishments, and prioritize new areas for cooperation.
The SEP was established in April 2018 whose objective is to encourage meaningful engagements through robust government-to-government cooperation and industry engagement. The next Ministerial meeting will be held in 2021.
Description: The SEP organizes inter-agency engagement on both sides across four primary pillars of cooperation:
- Power and Energy Efficiency,
- Oil and Gas,
- Renewable Energy,
- Sustainable Growth.
The SEP also supports USA efforts under the AsiaEDGE initiative, which establishes India as a strong energy partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
Major Outcomes: Number of achievements and priorities for new work under the SEP were announced by both sides. These can be broadly segregated under the four primary pillars of cooperation, as given below:
1. Power and Energy Efficiency:
- Modernizing the Power System: Both countries have been collaborating on the integration of new technologies into the smart grid; modernizing the power distribution sector i.e. rooftop solar, deployment of Smart Meters etc.
The two countries are leading joint research and development (R&D) through Advance Clean Energy-Research (PACE-R) on smart grids and energy storage to increase resilience and reliability of the electric grid.
- New areas of research on transformational power generation based on supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power cycles and advanced coal technologies for power generation including carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) were also initiated.
**sCO2 is a fluid state of carbon dioxide where it is held at or above its critical temperature and critical pressure.
- Commitment to advance civil nuclear cooperation i.e. recent progress on the Westinghouse (USAs Electric Company) nuclear reactor project at Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh were also discussed.
- It also promotes continued bilateral R&D engagement on advanced civil nuclear energy technologies through the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group.
2. Oil and Gas: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to begin cooperation on Strategic Petroleum Reserves operation.
- The possibility of India storing oil in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was also discussed.
- Both sides have noted the significant increase in the bilateral hydrocarbon trade through SEP touching 9.2 billion USD during 2019-20 and marking a 93% increase since 2017-18, Through the U.S.-India Natural Gas Task Force, it affirmed to promote greater hydrocarbon trade between the two countries.
3. Renewable Energy: The both sides launched a public-private Hydrogen Task Force to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources and to bring down the cost of deployment for enhanced energy security and resiliency.
- Efficient Buildings and Clean Technologies: A MoU was signed to collaborate on India’s first-ever Solar Decathlon in 2021, establishing a collegiate competition to prepare the next generation to design and build high efficiency buildings powered by renewables.
- In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), India has jointly initiated “Retrofit of Air Conditioning to Improve Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency” (RAISE) for healthy and energy efficient buildings.
- Launched collaboration between the USA Department of Energy (DOE) National labs and the Indian National Institutes under the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy as part of the South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE), supported by USAID, for joint research on development of advanced clean technologies.
- Information exchange on sustainable biofuel production (bioethanol and renewable diesel) and use for air and sea transport were also discussed.
- It will also explore cooperation on utilizing the economic value of converting bio-waste into biogas.
4. Sustainable Growth: The best practices are being adopted through methodologies in energy data management and capacity building in energy modeling.
- USAID and NITI Aayog jointly launched the India Energy Modeling Forum to build a network of modeling communities and its linkage with Government for analytical work and policy making exercise.
- Empowering Women in the Energy Sector: USAID launched the South Asia Women in Energy (SAWIE) platform focused on the power sector and both the countries have been working to incorporate gender-focused activities across the technical pillars.