As the United States increases its engagement with Asia, there is no more important partner for the United States in the region than India. Accordingly, President Barack Obama has described the relationship between the United States and India as a “defining partnership for the 21st century.”
India is now the fourth largest energy consumer in the world, as its impressive economic growth caused primary energy consumption to more than double between 1990 and 2011.
India’s national energy policy is thus focused on securing adequate resources to meet the demands of its economy. Yet domestic fossil fuel production has not kept pace with the needs of the growing power sector, presenting a challenge to sustained growth.
India is thus increasingly looking toward alternative energy sources to meet its needs. In this effort it finds a willing partner in the United States, which has declared the development of clean, safe, and sustainable energy projects to be a national priority.
The United States strongly supports regional energy and economic integration efforts to significantly increase economic connectivity across Asia.”
The governments of both countries have important roles to fulfill in this mission. At a recent conference sponsored by TERI and Yale University, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake discussed how governments can increase alternative energy development.
He encouraged India to foster the right environment for innovation and lower barriers that obstruct the best ideas from reaching the broadest possible market. He also urged governments to avoid “policies that hinder innovation, such as subsidies to local producers, measures that favor indigenous over foreign companies, or technology transfer requirements as a pre-condition for market access.”
Assistant Secretary Blake also stated, “The United States strongly supports regional energy and economic integration efforts to significantly increase economic connectivity across Asia.”
“USAID’s South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration program, for example, facilitates cross-border energy trade, expands access to clean energy, and builds power-sector capacity to integrate energy supplies across the entire region.”
The United States also supports the development of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, or TAPI, which will help make up some of India’s energy shortfall by supplying a key energy source for power generation, transportation, and industrial production that is less carbon-intensive and produces fewer harmful emissions than coal.
“Energy and climate change issues are important not just for our partnership with India, but for our broader strategy for the region,” said Assistant Secretary Blake. “We believe that collaboration in this area can drive broader cooperation and economic connectivity, to help make the region more secure and prosperous.”