Current Affairs

U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP)

A virtual ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) was held to review progress, highlight major accomplishments, and prioritise new areas for cooperation.

Background:

  • It was established in April 2018, recognizing the strategic importance of energy to the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.
  • It builds upon our longstanding energy partnership and sets the stage for meaningful engagements through robust government-to-government cooperation and industry engagement.
  • It focuses on 4 pillars of cooperation – 
    • Power and Energy Efficiency
    • Oil and Gas
    • Renewable Energy
    • Sustainable Growth
  • Through these pillars both countries are working –
    • To strengthen and modernize the power grid and distribution utilities for clean, affordable, and reliable energy access; 
    • To improve efficiency, flexibility, and environmental performance in the power sector;
    • To promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth through long-term energy development; 
    • To enhance energy security through oil and gas trade, and infrastructure investment;
    • To advance the development, deployment, and integration of renewable energy
    • To expand access to finance for renewable energy projects; 
    • To reduce market barriers to energy trade and investment

Other initiatives:

  • India and the U.S are leading joint research and development (R&D) through Partnership to Advance Clean Energy-Research (PACE-R) on smart grids and energy storage to increase resilience and reliability of the electric grid.
  • There is also Bilateral Engagement on advanced civil nuclear energy technologies through the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group.

Areas of Cooperation:

  • Enhancing Energy Security: A Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) has been signed to begin cooperation on Strategic Petroleum Reserves operation and maintenance, including exchange of information and best practices.
  • Harnessing Innovation: A public-private Hydrogen Task Force would be set up to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources. 
    • They also signed an MOU to collaborate on India’s first-ever Solar Decathlon® India in 2021, establishing a collegiate competition to prepare the next generation of building professionals to design and build high efficiency buildings powered by renewables. 
    • The sides jointly launched collaboration between the U.S. DOE National labs and the Indian National Institutes as part of the newly launched South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE), supported by USAID, for joint research on development and deployment of advanced clean technologies.
  • Modernising the Power System: They have agreed to modernize the Distribution Sector through various reform measures for achieving reliable quality 24X7 power supply.
    • This will be achieved through increased private participation; enhancing consumer centricity; deployment of Smart Meters across India; and, establishing Smart Grid Knowledge Centre in India as a “Global Centre of Excellence” for Smart Grids. 
    • USAID and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation are developing a concept to establish a new $25-million credit guarantee for the Small and Medium Enterprise sector to deploy rooftop solar.
  • Enhancing Energy Efficiency: This will be achieved through improved building codes, design and operation of smart buildings of the future, smart meters and demand side response.
    • USAID and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) jointly initiated a new activity, “Retrofit of Air Conditioning to Improve Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency” (RAISE) for healthy and energy efficient buildings.
    • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), under the administration of the Ministry of Power, Government of India, is working towards mainstreaming energy efficiency and is implementing the world’s largest energy efficiency portfolio in the country.
  • Promoting Energy Trade and Investment: They agreed to support each other’s vision of national development in the energy sector and encourage investment, including sharing a list of potential projects in which the companies from both sides can be encouraged to invest.
    • Improved civil nuclear cooperation will be ensured, like the recent progress on the Westinghouse commercial reactor project at Kovvada, which represents an important milestone in the strategic relationship.
  • Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth: USAID and NITI Aayog jointly launched the India Energy Modeling Forum to build a network of modeling community 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 the sides are working to incorporate gender-focused activities across the technical pillars.