From natural gas to smart grids & efficient discoms, India, US to energise ties across sector

  • Pradhan and Brouillette also discussed the possibility of India storing oil in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase the country’s strategic oil stockpile

  • With a view to enhance the share of gas and improve its accessibility, a number of agreements were reached between India and the US at the Strategic Energy Partnership meet

New Delhi: At the India-US Strategic Energy Partnership meeting on July 17 chaired by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, India and the US discussed a plethora of opportunities for enhanced cooperation in the energy sector, from enhancing the reach and share of natural gas in the Indian economy, to smart grids, ways to improve the efficiency of discoms in India which are reeling under debt, cooperation in renewable energy sector, enhancing flexibility of coal power plants to scaling up technologies to produce Hydrogen from RE sources. A number of MoUs were signed between the two countries and statements were exchanged, a joint statement released by the Petroleum Ministry and the US Department of Energy showed.

India discusses possibility of storing oil in US Strategic Petroleum Reserve

India and the US signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to begin cooperation on Strategic Petroleum Reserves’ operation and maintenance, including exchange of information and best practices. Pradhan and Brouillette also discussed the possibility of India storing oil in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase the country’s strategic oil stockpile.

India and the US 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

Harnessing innovation in clean energy

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

The sides also 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. 

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

MoUs with PNGRB and CERC for exchange of best regulatory practices

The sides also discussed information exchange in regard to policies and regulations, and other related areas of interest. In this regard, 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.

And in the hydrocarbon sector, an MoU was signed between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Petroleum Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) on information exchange in oil and gas regulatory frameworks.

The two sides have been collaborating to modernise the Distribution Sector through various reform measures for achieving reliable quality 24X7 power supply, deployment of Smart Metres across India, and, establishing Smart Grid Knowledge Centre in India as a “Global Centre of Excellence” for Smart Grids

Modernising the power system

As India pursues its ambitious renewable energy targets and seeks to transform its energy sector, India and the US decided to collaborate on the deployment and integration of renewable energy and new technologies into the grid; modernizing the power distribution sector; supporting state-level planning for renewable energy; deploying distributed energy technologies, electric vehicles, rooftop solar, and battery storage; redesigning markets, and increasing off-grid energy access at the Strategic Energy Partnership meeting. 

In this regard, USAID announced a partnership with Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) to develop India’s National Open Access Registry (NOAR). And a statement of Intent between the US Department of State and India’s Ministry of Power was released under the Flexible Resources Initiative of the US-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force to enhance the flexibility and robustness of India’s grid to support the country’s energy transition and mobilise private investment to deliver reliable, low-cost power for the country. An Energy Industry Working Group for India under the Asia EDGE initiative was also launched by the US Department of Commerce to facilitate private sector connections and ideas for US-India energy cooperation.

The two sides have been collaborating to modernise the Distribution Sector through various reform measures for achieving reliable quality 24X7 power supply, deployment of Smart Metres across India, and, establishing Smart Grid Knowledge Centre in India as a “Global Centre of Excellence” for Smart Grids. USAID and the US International Development Finance Corporation are developing a concept to establish a new $25-million credit guarantee for the Small and Medium Enterprises sector to deploy rooftop solar.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID, NTPC Limited and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) have 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 up in public sector buildings

Enhancing flexibility of coal power plants

Work is also underway to enhance flexible operations of coal power plants needed to address increased renewable energy penetration and variable power demand to minimize operating costs and failure risks. 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.

Enhancing energy efficiency and conservation

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID, NTPC Limited and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) have 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 up in public sector buildings. 

USTDA 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)

Cooperation in gas sector prioritised, several MoUs signed

Through the US-India Natural Gas Task Force, the US and Indian industry forged new commercial partnerships on innovative projects and developed a series of policy and regulatory recommendations to support the Central government’s vision to increase the share of natural gas in India’s energy sector. An MoU was signed between Bloom Energy and Indian Oil on fuel cell technology. USTDA 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).

With a view to enhance the share of gas and improve its accessibility, a number of agreements were reached between India and the US at the Strategic Energy Partnership meet. A Letter of Cooperation was exchanged among ExxonMobil, Chart Industries IOCL on stimulating LNG demand through a virtual pipeline network and manufacturing and use of ISO containers in India. An MoU was signed 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. Another MoU was signed between Gasway USA, Inc and Indrapastha Gas Limited (IGL) to explore the feasibility of a pilot virtual gas pipeline project.

The progress made by ExxonMobil and GAIL on the MOU they signed in 2019 to enhance India’s natural gas access was discussed. The two companies are currently engaged in a commercial dialogue to advance LNG as fuel in heavy commercial vehicles, the statement said.

Strategic Energy Partnership teams will convene again in the near future to further develop action plans for the respective pillars of cooperation. The next ministerial meeting will be held in 2021, the statement said.

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