How India is Dominating the Energy Landscape

India’s commitment to renewable energy cooperation in the Indian Ocean shows just how important green energy is becoming for its foreign policy.

india-energyThe recently concluded bilateral visits of the Prime Ministers of Australia and Bangladesh have re-energized India’s stand in the Indian Ocean Region.

India strives to be a responsible global power. New Delhi’s commitment to renewable energy cooperation in the Indian Ocean shows just how important green energy is becoming for its foreign policy.

India aims to contend with the growing impact of climate change on natural resources. As a result, it will focus on green energy to satisfy economic growth and to sustain its population which will reach 1.5 billion by 2030. There is a sharp decline in per-capita emission 1.7 metric tons-CO2 in comparison to world emissions.

In the ever transient geopolitical landscape, energy co-operation is a key strategic factor that impacts multiple stakeholders, while the trade and development of energy as a commodity can shape geo-politics.

Energy security goes beyond the traditional binary of ensuring supply and demand. Energy security encompasses the development of renewable sources of energy, to ensuring efficient, affordable, accessible as well as ethical usage of energy resources. Moreover, energy security also prioritizes  sustainable development of the region.

India has invested a fortune to achieve the synergy between maintaining an economic growth rate of over seven percent and its commitment to ensure the environmentally sustainable development goals.

India has also invested in re-green development, green energy harvesting, greener technologies, adopting global best practices and research and innovation of sustainable energy solutions like the US-India Energy Partnership Program called SERIIUS (Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States), and an inter-governmental initiative known as International Solar Alliance. Also, India has developed various solar power projects like the Kamuthi Solar Power Project with a capacity of 648 megawatts (MW), 750 MW solar power plant at Rewa, Madhay Pradesh.

India is boosting environmental ties with Bangladesh and Australia.

New Delhi recently pledged to invest $9 billion in energy (with a focus on power and gas) in Bangladesh to help strengthen Dhaka’s emerging industry base and meet the ever-increasing energy requirements. India promised an additional 60 MW to the 600 MW of power already flowing between the two countries. Three agreements signal increased nuclear cooperation.

One agreement focused on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The second one, signed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA), promotes technical cooperation and information sharing in nuclear safety and radiation protection. The third focused on Indo-Bangla collaboration with respect to nuclear power plants in Bangladesh.

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The National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) conglomerate was among the Indian blue-chip companies that concluded investment proposals to supply electricity and enhance power generation in Bangladesh. Reliance Power signed an agreement worth $1 billion with Bangladesh’s power, energy and mineral resources ministry for the first phase (750 MW) of the 3,000 MW power project at Meghnaghat in Bangladesh. Adani Power Ltd. also inked a $2 billion agreement to supply 1,600 MW of power from its plant in Jharkhand to Bangladesh.

Finally, the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited and EXIM Bank of India signed a contract worth $1.6 billion. This historic transaction has helped strengthen bilateral relations by further uniting the two with cross-border power connectivity.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by welcoming the passage of the Civil Nuclear Transfers to India Act. Both leaders anticipated the export of commercial Uranium to India to begin at an early date. Modi and Turnbull also re-affirmed that energy and resources will continue to be an important aspect of the bilateral relations as a result of the proposed Australia-India Energy Dialogue.

Turnbull mentioned that Australia would help India’s water management and renewable energy policy. Also, both leaders reasserted their commitment to improve efforts on climate change and environmental data collection.

On a multilateral level, India is a member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), a regional organization which includes Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

India recently agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. This MoU will work as a framework document for co-operation in the implementation of grid interconnections for trade in electricity with a view towards promoting rational and optimal power transmission in the BIMSTEC region.

In conclusion, support will be made available to help optimize capital investment for increase capacity across the region and facilitate power exchange through cross-border interconnections.

Satyendra Tripathi is a Senior Research Fellow at India Foundation, an New Delhi-based think tank. Tripathi is the author of Bharat Sutra: Reflections on Emergence of a Nation after 2014 General Elections. His area of interests include climate security, water security, and International Relations with an emphasis on the Indian Ocean region. Follow Satyendra on Twitter @isatyendra. Read other articles by Satyendra.