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Dharmendra Pradhan & Dan Brouillette co-chaired  2nd Meeting of India-US Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) virtually

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Shri Dharmendra Pradhan co-chaired 2nd Meeting of India-US Strategic Energy PartnershipOn July 17 2020, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel Dharmendra Pradhan and United States (US) Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette co-chaired the 2nd  ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) virtually to review progress, highlight major accomplishments, and prioritize new areas for cooperation.The meeting was organized by US-India Business Council (USIBC).

  • Before heading further, it is to be noted that there is significant increase in Indo-US bilateral hydrocarbon trade since the establishment of SEP, with the bilateral hydrocarbon trade touching US$ 9.2 billion during 2019-20, marking a 93% increase since 2017-18.

Several Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed at US-India SEP ministerial meeting. Think tanks, policy researchers, NGOs and Government agencies from India have collaborated with DOE National Labs and respective U.S. Government and private agencies to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Let’s have a look at them.

–India-US signed MoU to begin cooperation on strategic petroleum reserve; India to create its first overseas oil stockpile in US

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas signed MOU to begin cooperation on Strategic Petroleum Reserves operation and maintenance, including exchange of information and best practices. This MoU was based on a proposal from the US after the recent historic drop in oil prices during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • It is to be noted that for the first time, India, the world’s third-largest oil guzzler, is planning to create an emergency reserve of oil in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to take advantage of low prices and to increase its strategic oil stockpile.

–MoU on India’s first-ever Solar Decathlon

The U.S. DOE signed a MOU to collaborate with India U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) in order to support India in the establishment of India’s 1st,”Solar Decathlon” in 2021. The aim of this competition is to prepare the next generation of building professionals to design and build high efficiency buildings powered by renewables.

–MOU between EESL, NTPC, and USAID for retrofit of buildings to improve indoor air quality, safety, and efficiency

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID, NTPC (formerly known as National Thermal Power Corporation Limited), 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. The initiative will be scaled in public sector buildings.

–USAID partnered with POSOCO to develop NOAR

 USAID announced partnership with Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) to develop India’s National Open Access Registry (NOAR).

–Launch of public-private Hydrogen Task Force

India-US launched a public-private Hydrogen Task Force to 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. 

–Statement of Intent: The U.S. Department of State and India’s Ministry of Power under the Flexible Resources Initiative of the U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force will enhance the flexibility of India’s grid to support the country’s energy transition and to provide low-cost 24X7 power supply for the people of India.     

  • There was also a Release of a Strategic Roadmap of Smart Grid Knowledge Centre to make India a Global Centre of Excellence in Smart Grids, during an industry round table held on the sidelines of the Power and Energy Efficiency pillar meeting, sponsored by the Ministry of Power of India and USAID.
  • They also announced new areas of research on transformational power generation based on supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power cycles and advanced coal technologies for power generation and hydrogen production, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS)
  • Both nations are already leading joint research and development (R&D) through the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy-Research (PACE-R) on smart grids and energy storage. 

MoU signed under US-India Gas Task Force (GTF)

US-India Gas Task Force (GTF) was established in 2018 to help India unleash its own natural gas potential. Following are the MoUs in this regard during SEP:

  • MOU between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Petroleum Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) on information exchange in oil & gas regulatory frameworks.
  • MOU between Bloom Energy and Indian Oil on fuel cell technology.
  • Letter of Cooperation among ExxonMobil, Chart Industries IOCL on stimulating LNG demand through a virtual pipeline network and manufacturing and use of ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) containers in India.
  • MOU between Agility Fuel Solutions LLC and Indrapastha Gas Limited (IGL) to explore the viability, usefulness, and feasibility of advanced clean fuel systems including Type IV cylinders in India.
  • MOU between Gasway USA, Inc. and IGL to explore the feasibility of a pilot virtual gas pipeline project.

Other ongoing agreements:

–The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (USA) and the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission in India are working to conclude an agreement to share best practices for regulating electricity and developing electricity markets.

–The US Department of Commerce launched an Energy Industry Working Group for India under the Asia EDGE initiative to facilitate private sector connections and ideas for U.S.-India energy cooperation.

USTDA (United States Trade and Development Agency) is supporting energy access and efficiency in India through recently funded projects to implement virtual pipeline infrastructure with Arush Gas Technology Services (AGTS) and carbon capture and utilization technologies in refineries with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL).

— Already USAID and NITI Aayog jointly launched the India Energy Modeling Forum. Read NITI Aayog & USAID Co-chaired Sustainable Growth Pillar Meeting; India Energy Modeling Forum Launched

-To empower 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.

Now, here comes the list of collaborations in Power /Coal and Technical sector

Collaboration between the U.S. DOE National labs and the Indian National Institutes initiated

Both sides jointly launched collaboration between the U.S. DOE National labs and the Indian National Institutes under the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy 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.

Establishment of $25-million credit guarantee

USAID and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation are developing a concept to establish a new $25-million credit guarantee for India’s Small and Medium Enterprise sector to deploy rooftop solar.

Cooperation in Coal sector

The sides agreed to collaborate on advanced high-efficiency coal technologies with low-to-zero emissions through carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), focusing on USDOE’s Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative to develop 21st Century coal energy systems.

Technical cooperation

This includes application of renewable energy in the economic sectors; development of new business models and decision-making tools for renewable energy; skill building and training programs; and adoption of emerging digital technologies and advanced IT management tools to enhance cyber security of renewable energy systems.

Areas to explore cooperation

-The sides agreed to explore possible cooperation through joint activities and information exchange on sustainable biofuel production and use, in particular, bioethanol, renewable diesel, other advanced biofuels, and discussion on possible developments in sustainable biofuels for air and sea transport. 

-Another potential area of cooperation is the promotion of bilateral investments in the private sector. 

The sides will also explore cooperation on utilizing the economic value of converting bio-waste into biogas.

The two sides agreed to support each other’s vision of national development in the energy sector and encourage investment.

The next Ministerial meeting will be held in 2021.

About US-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP):

Established in April 2018 at the direction of President Donald John Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SEP organizes inter-agency engagement on both sides across four primary pillars of cooperation viz. Power and Energy Efficiency; Oil and Gas; Renewable Energy; and Sustainable Growth. 

  • The SEP also supports US govt efforts under the AsiaEDGE initiative, which establishes India as a strong energy partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

Static Points:
India’s Ambassador to the US– Taranjit Singh Sandhu
US Capital– Washington, D.C.
US Currency– US Dollar