Fueling the Future: US-India Cooperation in Clean Energy Solutions

Asia India

US and Indian energy leaders have sparked a clean energy revolution, joining forces for innovation, decarbonization, and a promising future in the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership.

On July 18, 2023, the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership—which was initiated in September 2021—held its third ministerial meeting, presided over by Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri and US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. To assist the energy transition and guarantee accessibility to clean energy, this initiative concentrates government, business, and other stakeholder activities to enhance energy security and clean energy innovation, including decarbonization.

The United States and India emphasized the critical importance of bilateral clean energy engagement and the accomplishments of the Office of the State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) in addressing climate change, bolstering energy security, and generating employment opportunities while also noting the growing significance of bilateral energy cooperation between the two nations. Both sides reaffirmed their dedication to working toward a fair, orderly, and sustainable energy shift, with access to a clean, cheap, and dependable energy supply as its top priority. The two countries emphasized the significance of cooperation and coordinated action for both bilateral advancement and managing the global energy shift, pointing out that they constitute the world's largest democracies as well as the fastest-growing economies, respectively.

Key Focus Areas

The major emphasis was laid on the creation of the public-private Energy Storage Task Force as well as other initiatives to facilitate the large-scale adoption of green energy sources required to make the shift to clean energy. They also launched the US-India New and Emerging Renewable Energy Technologies Action Platform (RETAP) to speed up the development of vital technologies to accomplish shared sustainable energy goals. Finally, they also aimed for a strengthened association to scale and speed up the installation of hydrogen technologies by establishing the public-private Hydrogen Task Force to promote their national hydrogen strategies, involving a focus on prevalent cost reduction objectives.

Carbon Emission Reduction Initiatives

The ministers applauded the leaders' commitment of lowering carbon emissions in the transport sector by utilizing zero-emission cars, as well as their continuous cooperation in obtaining funds and making debt and equity financing for the electronic transportation industry readily available, reasonable, and manageable. The "Electric Vehicle (EV) financing solutions facility", which will establish dedicated funding for e-mobility, was acknowledged by all parties as being of great significance.

As a special and valuable resource to the shift to a sustainable energy future, both nations also approved cooperation between India and the United States in advancing research, development, and marketing of innovations in the emerging fuels track, including bio-ethanol, environment-friendly diesel, alternative fuels for aviation, and other modern biofuels.

Future Collaborations

The identified focus areas for future collaboration include efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the petroleum and natural gas industry. This involves conducting investigations into methane reduction and facilitating the transfer and installation of technologies. The aim is to implement these measures voluntarily and through mutually agreeable arrangements. Additionally, there is a commitment to upgrading the power structure to enhance the dependability, adaptability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of energy infrastructure. Another key area of emphasis involves fostering the development of new technologies to support electrification and reduce carbon emissions in industries that are traditionally challenging to decarbonize. These collaborative initiatives signify a comprehensive approach to addressing environmental concerns and promoting sustainable practices in the energy sector.

In a bid to strengthen cooperation between Indian organizations and US national laboratories, particularly in areas such as research, assessment, and capacity-building endeavors like the advancement of modeling capabilities for the Life Cycle Assessment of low carbon technologies and analytics pertaining to energy use in the development sector, both entities have inaugurated the South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE). This initiative aims to foster collaborative efforts that contribute to the development and enhancement of essential tools and insights for sustainable energy practices, underscoring a shared commitment to addressing challenges in the energy landscape through joint expertise and innovation.

Way Forward

Currently, the top two countries for hydrogen consumption are the United States and India, primarily for gray hydrogen used in chemical and refining industries. Both nations believe that hydrogen will be essential to their energy mixes in the future, particularly green hydrogen, which will help decarbonize challenging industries like chemicals and steel. These industries are mentioned in the current, albeit very tentative, estimates of the need for green hydrogen. India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission and the implementation of the monetary incentives must be taken into consideration. Over time, knowledge gained from these initiatives will serve to clarify the need for green hydrogen and facilitate the efficient allocation of aid.

Shubhankar Agarwal is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. He is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service, where he is focusing on global governance, economic, and gender issues in the Indo-Pacific region.