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Kerry visit marks India, US shifting gears for clean energy partnership

Strategic reserves, carbon capture, biofuels, and hydrogen enter Strategic Clean Energy Partnership between countries.

John Kerry | US India relations  | Narendra Modi

Twesh Mishra  |  New Delhi 

John Kerry
India and the US had decided to revamp their strategic partnership to focus on clean energy sectors such as biofuels and hydrogen after the Joe Biden administration took charge

India and the United States have realigned their energy partnership to focus on John Kerry, the US President’s Special Envoy, will oversee the launch of the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue during his two-day visit to India starting Sunday.

The two countries had launched the realigned Strategic Partnership (SCEP) last week. An official statement said this SCEP is launched in accordance with US -India Climate and Agenda 2030 Partnership announced by Prime Minister and President at the Leaders Summit on Climate held in April this year.

India and the US had decided to revamp their strategic partnership to focus on clean energy sectors such as biofuels and hydrogen after the administration took charge. This is a shift from the partnership efforts under Donald Trump that focused more on shale exploration and Liquefied Natural Gas deals. In March this year, the two countries said they will intensify efforts to take advantage of advanced US technologies and India's rapidly growing energy market.

The US-India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) was launched in April 2018 and four technical pillars for it were established in January 2019. These were Power and Energy Efficiency, Responsible Oil and Gas, Renewable Energy, and Sustainable Growth. A fifth pillar of Emerging Fuels was added this time and the partnership was rejigged accordingly.

According to an official presentation, priorities for this pillar include operations of strategic reserves, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology and advancing alternative fuels such as hydrogen and biofuels.

Another focus this time is the goal of maximally abated natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and other fossil fuel-based fuels for use in the industrial, transportation, and residential sectors.

A US-India Hydrogen Task Force was launched in June this year. An official statement said this new Task Force represents industry and government stake holders to assess technology status, study innovative policy options, and make recommendations. The formation of this task force was first announced in April 2021 by US Deputy Secretary of Energy, David M Turk.

A new India-US Task Force on Biofuels has also been announced last week to build on the scope of work on cooperation in biofuels sector. There would considerable emphasis on upscaling cooperation under the renewable energy pillar by working on several projects and system-friendly practices in India’s renewable energy sector.

Another important variation in the energy partnership between the two countries is the transformation of the US-India Gas Task Force. It will now be the US-India Low Emissions Gas Task Force. “The Task Force will focus on addressing India’s natural gas policy, technology, and regulatory barriers by promoting efficient and market-driven solutions aimed at meeting India’s growing energy demand, and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. This will be done through its subcommittees’ targeting work on Green House Gas Emissions Abetment Technologies, and Carbon Capture and Storage among others. There will be emphasis on the intersectionality between Bio-energy, Hydrogen, and Renewable Fuels with natural gas.

Regarding Strategic Petroleum Reserves, there would be exchanges between the US Department of Energy and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves. The focus would be releasing crude oil supplies and the decision process in response to an emergency. There will also be exchanges regarding cavern operations, construction, and maintenance.

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First Published: Mon, September 13 2021. 10:30 IST