(As Prepared for Delivery)
Good Morning ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you to our hosts, NITI Aayog, for putting together this conference and assembling such a notable group of leaders working to transform the future of India’s energy. I’m truly honored to be here. Thank you to NITI Aayog’s Vice Chairman Panagrahiya, and its CEO, Mr. Kant, for sharing this opportunity.
Cooperation between the United States and India, under the leadership of NITI Aayog and the U.S. Agency for International Development, has laid the foundation to transform India’s clean energy resources while ensuring its energy security and continued growth.
I am delighted to share the dais with:
- Minister Anil Madhav Dave, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
- British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith
- Mr. Anil Jain, Adviser Energy, NITI Aayog
U.S. – India Clean Energy Cooperation
Congratulations Minister Dave on your new charge. We look forward to continuing our successful cooperation with you and the Environment Ministry on a range of issues such as implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, to reaching an ambitious phasedown schedule on HFCs, to our work together in ICAO to reduce the emissions from international civil aviation and through our Forest-PLUS program to develop solutions for sustainable forest land use in India – and so many other important efforts.
As you know, India and the United States have a long and successful partnership in the energy sector that has grown stronger and deeper under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Obama. It’s a testament to our common interest that our leaders have visited one another seven times over the past 20 months – and where clean energy and climate change were always a key component of their talks. As I have been telling people for many months, our work together on climate and clean energy may be the single biggest pathway of US/India cooperation in the years ahead.
India faces a two-fold energy challenge – to provide “Power to All” while also driving a transition to clean, sustainable energy. The Government of India’s plan to deploy 175 gigawatts of renewable energy has led the world – no other nation has set such ambitious goals. And this remarkable goal is at the center of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy or PACE.
The PACE program combines the talents of many U.S. and Indian agencies to fulfill an ambitious agenda for research, deployment, and off-grid energy access. Those at the forefront of this effort – policy makers, electricity utilities, private investors, grid operators – are putting important building blocks in place to help India to meet its enhanced target for renewables. As we go forward, both financing and skills training will be at the forefront of our efforts.
Such an ambitious undertaking requires large-scale investment from both public and private enterprise. Since its inception in 2012, the PACE program has already mobilized nearly $2.5 billion for clean energy projects in India. During Prime Minister Modi’s most recent visit to the United States, new initiatives were announced to raise another $1.4 billion in finance for solar projects. These new initiatives include a US/India Clean Energy Finance Initiative projected to mobilize some $400 million for renewable projects, a new US/India Clean Energy Hub to work with Indian financial institutions on securing new sources of finance, and a new US/India Catalytic Solar Finance Program. These programs are in addition to our Mission Innovation program – a commitment to double our spending on clean energy programs in the US and India – and our commitment to support India’s ambitious International Solar Alliance.
We should also remember that the financing of clean energy is not just an issue for large-scale power projects. Increasingly, we must support the local, small, yet equally important projects. For example, in Eastern India, women who live in areas off the power grid also aspire to use solar energy to improve their livelihoods. They recognize the opportunities, even if it means a significant financial commitment on their part. Our partnership with Indian micro-finance organizations has helped over 150,000 women to purchase $6 million worth of solar products.
Training and Entrepreneurship
It’s estimated that India will need a million new technical specialists to meet the massive target for solar alone. U.S.–India cooperation is helping young Indians to become entrepreneurs, and helping those who are already in the market to re-tune their skills. The USAID Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Deployment to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy rooftop solar program trained 500 utility engineers and close to 100 solar entrepreneurs in less than a year. This is the first step to expand the Solar Energy Training Network to five new states to train 5,000 additional utility engineers and 1,000 solar entrepreneurs – another commitment made during Prime Minister Modi’s most recent trip to Washington.
I’m particularly encouraged by this surge in entrepreneurship through training programs. It has the potential to create entirely new supply channels to help the most distant customers across India access renewable energy. Our Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship on Clean Energy has built a robust network of more than 1,000 rural womenSakhis (clean energy entrepreneurs). Their efforts have enabled over one million rural Indians to purchase clean energy solutions. As one Sakhi has stated, “everyone in my village addresses me as Oorja ki Madam”. I think we can agree that this gives a new meaning to “women’s empowerment”.
India’s power grid operators are also on the front lines of the effort to deploy 175 gigawatts of renewables by 2022. It’s their responsibility to ensure that power generation and demand are balanced in a delicate harmony. With the large scale influx of solar and wind power, achieving this balance requires more skill and new tools. One such effort to address this challenge is happening in Bangalore, where we are working with the state government to test new technologies as part of our Greening the Grid program. This initiative is driving cooperation between U.S. and Indian grid operators, electricity companies, researchers and regulators to strengthen the capacity of the power grid.
US-India Joint Working Group on Sustainable Growth
I’d now like to turn our attention to the efforts of the U.S. –India Joint Working Group on Sustainable Growth, which is the forum for our direct engagement with NITI Aayog and what brings us together today.
This Working Group brings together leading researchers from India’s technical institutes and the U.S. Department of Energy’s laboratories to bridge the gap between pressing environmental concerns and the energy demands of a surging economy.
They’re currently pioneering tools and innovative strategies that will allow us to:
- Make more informed policy decisions using better energy data;
- Applying enhanced modeling to understand the key trends shaping our energy future; and
- Using geospatial analysis to determine how we can best apply our solar and wind resources.
Energy Data and Enhanced Modeling Agreements
We are pleased to sign two new agreements which expand the partnership between some of the most talented researchers in our two countries and accelerate efforts in these three areas. The first of these agreements between USAID and NITI extends cooperation on the Sustainable Growth Working Group to September 2017.
The second agreement we are signing today between USAID, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and NITI Aayog supports the design of a nodal agency for Energy Data Management. Under this agreement, the cooperation between the Prayas Energy Group and the U.S. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is enhanced through direct cooperation with the U.S. Government’s lead agency for energy information. This will strengthen how energy data is collected, managed and consumed.
The Working Group’s focus on energy and environmental modeling is aimed to help India’s decision-makers understand potential flash points for water scarcity, and identify opportunities to manage the growth in demand. This work-in-progress will help decision makers develop policies to make the best use of India’s water resources in the context of competing economic priorities and changing weather patterns.
Let me also mention how our critical work on geospatial analysis factors into achieving these goals. Policy makers in those Indian states where renewable energy resources are concentrated also face significant challenges. A state electricity regulator must ensure that customers have affordable power, but also that the state’s targets for renewable energy are sufficiently ambitious to meet India’s commitments to the world. Similarly, a renewable energy investor in one of these states needs to know that the power can be transmitted and deployed. On the other side, transmission planners need to know where the greatest potential for investment is. This is where geospatial analysis plays such an important role. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory and its Indian partners are developing a cutting-edge Geospatial Tool that will help policy makers, investors, and developers pinpoint where to focus their attention, where the greatest potential for renewables exist and what obstacles need to be overcome.
Achieving these goals will not happen overnight. It will require competitive technologies, sound policies, accessible finance, and a skilled workforce. It will not be easy. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the progress our partnership has already made in the past two years. All of the joint efforts I mentioned here today capitalize on some of the best scientific talent that India and the United States have to offer. Looking around this room, I’m confident that this partnership has the resources and the will to move us closer to the climate and clean energy goals that President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have set out.