Energy is of major significance for both India and the European Union (EU). Both sides recognise the need to work towards achieving safe, secure, affordable and sustainable energy supplies. In view of this, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in association with Darmstadt University and Volkswagon Stiftung organised a conference today titled “European Union (EU)-India: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities for Energy Cooperation”.
The conference provided a perfect setting for deliberations on strategies and activities aimed at energy security for both countries, as they move towards low carbon economic pathways. The forum provided an excellent opportunity for Indian and European Union stakeholders to discuss and share their experiences. The conference envisaged the capitalisation of cross-learning, thus ensuring mutual benefits and promotion of bilateral relations between the two.
Dr. Ligia Noronha, Executive Director, TERI while setting the theme for the forum, said, “While energy and securing energy is often treated as a national security project, it seems to me that the only way we can seriously address the global need for energy resources is through energy cooperation, bilaterally, regionally, and globally. The faster we, thus, shed our zero sum approaches to energy securitization, the better our outcomes will be.”
Prabhat Kumar, Joint Secretary, Energy Security Division, Ministry of External Affairs, GOI, said, “India has a lot to learn from the EU. India is now getting a national grid. We are also thinking of transnational power lines. Experience from Europe can be utilized. Similarly on natural gas pipelines, India can learn from Europe. We are also building strategic reserves which might come up soon. Therefore, lessons on management of those reserves can be a good area of collaboration. India is also interested in ECT. India has been an observer, but the rules and management of energy from the EU will be good learning points. EU has dialogues mechanism with energy surplus countries but India lacks such mechanism. Hence, learning on this front and the benefits of such a dialogue will also be of interest to India.”
Speaking on the importance of achieving energy efficiency as a priority agenda, Dr. Pavel Svitil, Chargé d'affaires, Delegation of the European Union to India, said, “The EU plays an important role in setting regulations in the energy field and the EU and India are important partners on several programs. The Joint Declaration for Enhanced Cooperation on Energy, signed between India and the EU in February 2012 re-emphasised the commitment to cooperate on energy. There is a significant investment in energy and clean technology. This has also been a result of the continuous engagement over a period of time on the EU-India front.”
Mr Jens Burgtorf, Director of the Indo-German Energy Programme, GIZ, pointed out, “One needs to tackle the challenge of getting effective technology and not just the cheapest technology.” He emphasized that it is important to find technologies which are suitable for India both in terms of cost effectiveness, as well as energy effectiveness.
Adrián Gutiérrez, Science and Technology Counsellor, Embassy of Spain, said, “Spain has also been cooperating with Department of Science and Technology; MNRE amongst others for development of technology.”
Suggesting the way forward, Amit Kumar, Director, Energy Environment Technology Development, TERI , said, “It should be noted that a lot of the development in India are taking place outside the ambit of the government. So, it is important to bring in more non-governmental actors. We can bring about more interaction with the SMEs and research communities because technologies developed for European conditions cannot be blindly implemented, which needs to be suited for Indian experiences.”
This conference is a part of the multi-partner study, “Challenges of European External Energy Governance with Emerging Powers: Meeting Tiger, Dragon, Lion and Jaguar”. This study examines the normative underpinnings, governance and negotiations that characterize EU's external energy policy vis-à-vis Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
Panelists discussed the possible areas of cooperation with a focus on technology transfer. Both sides acknowledged the increasing importance of energy in the international policy formulation with particular reference to security of supply and sustainability. Key priorities for cooperation are development of clean technologies, increasing energy efficiency and savings, promoting environment friendly energies as well as assisting India in energy market reforms.
India and the European Union signed a cooperation agreement in 1994. Since then, the changing global geopolitical landscape has led to an evolution in their partnership and expanded to include various issues besides trade. With India emerging as a major developing power, its significance in EU strategies has risen, especially in the past decade. Since 2000, EU and India have regularly engaged with each other; these ties were further strengthened with the EU-India Strategic Partnership Agreement being signed in 2005. Deeming energy as crucial for the bilateral relationship, it was decided in 2004 to set up energy panels which would meet regularly to further the dialogue in this sector.
The speakers at the forum included representatives from GIZ, Embassy of Spain, Suzlon, NTPC, BEE, Netherlands Embassy, JNU, TERI along with many other experts and industry leaders.