DES MOINES, Washington – India, a rapidly developing country, faces the challenge of meeting its growing energy demands while addressing the adverse effects of burning fossil fuels. With coal accounting for 55% of its energy needs, India’s reliance on this non-renewable resource contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbates global warming. In response to this pressing issue, the US-India Energy Partnership, with support from USAID, is paving the way for a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for India. Since its establishment in 2016, this collaborative effort has made significant strides in implementing renewable energy sources across the country, benefiting more than 5 million people across India.
The Energy Situation in India
Since 1990, India has experienced a significant surge in energy consumption, increasing by more than 446%. This growth has been accompanied by a rise in CO2 emissions of more than 291%. These changes can primarily be attributed to the country’s expanding population. India’s heavy reliance on coal and oil has propelled it to become the world’s third-largest CO2 emitter. In response to the imperative of sustainability, India made a significant commitment in 2021, announcing its determination to achieve zero net emissions by 2070. Additionally, the country aims to install 500 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this transition would necessitate an annual investment of $160 billion. The shift towards clean energy not only serves India’s interests but also holds global significance in the collective effort to combat the escalating temperatures of the Earth’s surface.
The US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership
In 2016, the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership was initiated to promote collaboration between the two countries in advancing renewable energy. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been at the forefront of this partnership by contributing technical expertise, financial support and assistance to aid India in its transition towards renewable energy adoption.
Key Objectives of this Partnership
Supporting India’s Global Climate Commitments and Renewable Energy Goals: In collaboration with the Government of India, USAID is dedicated to assisting in achieving the target of transitioning 40% of the power sector to non-fossil sources by 2030.
Implementing Energy-Efficient Solutions in India: USAID has played a crucial role in the widespread introduction of electric vehicle public-charging infrastructure, installing more than 2,000 stations in 13 cities. Additionally, the agency supported the development of a national energy-conservation building code, resulting in increased energy efficiency for more than 10,000 buildings.
Promoting Private Sector Involvement to Accelerate India’s Shift in Clean Energy: USAID has been instrumental in creating an enabling environment that encourages private sector engagement in the energy sector. This includes facilitating favorable policies, regulatory frameworks, access to finance and establishing partnerships for demonstrations and pilots. The agency has also provided innovative tools and business models to support these efforts. As a result of USAID’s initiatives between 2016 and 2020, a significant amount of $2 billion was successfully mobilized in investments from both private and public sectors in India.
Impacts of the Partnership
Since its inception in 2016, the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership has made substantial progress and achieved significant results in the renewable energy sector.
Energy Access: The partnership has successfully provided clean energy access to more than 5 million people and deployed more than 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 3.9 million households. USAID helped to achieve the Government of India’s goal of reaching 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2021.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Through the US-India energy partnership, greenhouse gas emissions have been effectively reduced by 13 million tons, equivalent to the environmental impact of taking more than 2.5 million cars off the road for a year.
Economic Opportunities: Given that India and the US are among the world’s fastest-growing economies, the Natural Resources Defense Council has estimated that achieving India’s goal of installing 500 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 could generate more than 3.5 million jobs, both in the short and long term.
Technological Advancements: In the third ministerial meeting of the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership in 2023, the two nations collaboratively decided to deploy hydrogen technologies through the private-public Hydrogen Task Force, emphasizing geologic carbon storage. Additionally, the meeting launched the Renewable Energy Technologies Action Platform (RETAP) with the aim of assembling a team of experts within the Department of Energy to accelerate India’s transition to renewable energy.
By leveraging the expertise and resources of both nations, this partnership has played a vital role in advancing India’s renewable energy sector and has had a far-reaching impact on the lives of millions of people. This partnership directly advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7, to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. In the face of challenging weather patterns worldwide, the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and similar initiatives highlight the significance of collaborative efforts towards securing a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future for generations to come.
– Clara Swart