Energy Access, Growth and Sustainability
Currently, 400 million Indians do not have access to electricity or clean forms of energy. This limits economic opportunity, impinges on access to education, results in crop spoilage and inefficiency, and harms health (e.g. indoor air pollution from cooking fires). Bringing electricity and clean forms of energy to the ⅓ of Indians who are currently deprived of them is a monumental imperative for India, both in terms of human development as well as economic possibility. This means, however, that India’s demand for energy is set to grow as by more than 50% by just 2020. Keeping up with demand in a way that addresses environmental and health concerns will take concerted action on the parts of the government, businesses and NGOs. Lessening the intensity of India’s growing demand for new energy through improving energy efficient technologies is vital for the scale and pace of development India seeks.
Financing Energy Efficient and Clean Technology Projects
A number of U.S.-India initiatives, such as the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE), seek to develop and expand financing for energy efficient and clean technologies. While technology transfer is important, the U.S. and India must encourage efforts at expanding the number and scope of joint ventures in capitalizing on energy efficient and clean energy technology development and implementation. Such an expansion will require not only increased financing, but also innovative financing mechanisms and corresponding enabling policies. Reducing barriers to such investment in energy efficient and clean energy technologies is very important, as policies must be flexible to encourage bilateral partnerships at all levels from research and development to project implementation and construction.
Opportunities for Bilateral Energy Sector Trade
From battery manufacturing to various kinds of energy services, the opportunities for trade between the U.S. and India in the energy sector are enormous. The U.S. and India are currently negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), but as various independent groups have pointed out, a BIT is only the beginning and U.S.-India trade must be further strengthened, possibly through sector-specific agreements. Energy is one such sector where trade possibilities abound. Increased bilateral trade in the energy sector has the potential to accelerate the rise of the bottom of the pyramid through enhancing energy access and employment opportunities. Making progress on and opening doors for bilateral energy trade is very clearly in the U.S. and India’s mutual interests.