The U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum projects the bilateral trade between the two countries to expand exponentially in the future, with the major focus being on energy cooperation.
India and the United States have a lot in common. Both countries share common democratic values as well as mutual interests across major sectors, including the energy sector. In 2017, the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) was formed to strengthen the economic and commercial ties between the two countries. As a result, the energy cooperation between the two countries, which is technical, economic and bilateral, is strengthening year after year.
The landmark signing of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative in 2005 established a legal framework for civil nuclear cooperation. From there, the energy partnership between the United States and India grew stronger.
Today, trade in the energy sector figures prominently in the exponential increase in the U.S.-India bilateral trade, as U.S. companies respond to India’s rapidly growing energy demands. In fact, a trade report by the USISPF in 2019 stated that Indian oil refining companies have evinced interest in more imports from the United States. USISPF also predicts that by 2021, U.S.-India bilateral trade may cross $210 billion, if annual growth rates of 20 percent average U.S. exports and 10 percent average U.S. imports are maintained, and impending deals in aerospace, petroleum and gas are realized.
Siddharth Aryan, director of energy and infrastructure at USISPF, believes in the U.S.-India energy partnership and says that it extends far beyond just bilateral trade. “The relationship is more than transactional – where the U.S. has oil and gas supplies and India has a big market. Both governments believe in a sustainable future, not just for our countries but for the world,” he says.
Aryan points to the two countries’ extensive investment in research and development. “For example, both countries established the U.S.-India Hydrogen Task Force to investigate a not yet economical clean energy source for affordable power. And both countries support other programs addressing climate change, like the Flexible Resources Initiative, the U.S.-India Gas Task Force and Greening the Grid,” he says.
A mix of energy sources
According to Aryan, the Government of India wants to diversify its supply of energy. India currently sources over half of its energy from coal, with crude oil contributing about 29 percent, and natural gas, hydro, nuclear and other renewable energy (RE) sources contributing the remaining. With a population of over 1.36 billion, India has made remarkable progress since 2000 in providing electricity to 700 million people as well as 80 million new connections of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). The Indian government is focused on affordable and sustainable energy as its demand increases. “Thermal power will continue to meet India’s baseload power needs for the foreseeable future,” says Aryan, “but the incremental demand in the power sector in India will be filled by a mix of energy sources—gas and renewables.”
Aryan explains that USISPF engages with policy makers, regulators, state governments and the private sector to build consensus. “USISPF continues to work with potential buyers of LNG [liquefied natural gas] in India and U.S. gas producers,” he adds. “Facilitating U.S. investments in India’s energy sector, building infrastructure for gas or supporting RE growth in the country remain a key focus for USISPF.”
“Currently, we are working with the U.S. Department of Energy on areas like coal gasification, carbon capture and utilization as well as sources of clean coal energy for India,” Aryan continues. “Given India’s target of a 10 percent ethanol blend in fuel [by 2022], we see a potential increase in biofuels trade between the two countries.”
As a nonprofit organization, USISPF’s primary objective is to strengthen the India-U.S. bilateral and strategic partnership through policy advocacy in the fields of economic growth, entrepreneurship, employment-creation and innovation. The organization’s contributions in the field of energy have helped develop even stronger ties between the two countries, as it supports the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership.
Hillary Hoppock is a freelance writer, former newspaper publisher and reporter based in Orinda, California.