Two day conference on Energy Security and Connectivity in Asia

The two day conference was organized by Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies (KIIPS) in collaboration with Department of Political Science of Ravenshaw University that was supported and sponsored by HPCL and IOCL.

The two day international conference on Energy Security and Connectivity in Asia: Exploring Opportunities and Possibilities was successfully held at Ravenshaw University during 17-18 February 2018.  It was attended by eminent researchers, experts and scholars belonging to prestigious institutions, research institutes, government bodies and universities from across the country. The conference witnessed lively discussions and critical deliberations on the themes and strategic issues underlying energy policy concerning Asia and world in particular. This Conference made a significant contribution in terms of charting out a concrete roadmap and mechanisms to augment India’s efforts in safeguarding its energy interests through meaningful collaboration and coordination with different regions of Asia.

The following are the major findings which could be used by both policy makers as well as important stakeholders.

  • The debate on energy security has intensified due to two reasons: firstly, due to high demand for energy resources in Asian economies and secondly due to the debate around de-carbonising energy resources (climate change concerns). These two factors have push and pull effect on the discourse of energy security.
  • Emerging geopolitics and China factor has placed India in a situation where if energy security is not delved upon we cannot afford to move forward. It is imperative that India increases its per-capita energy consumption to move into the next stage of economic modernization.
  • The options for Cross-regional and Multilateral solutions in the energy sector to achieve greater Regional Energy Connectivity must be explored.
  • Inter-Country Energy Development Opportunities must be promoted and facilitated.

Reinvigorating the Policy  for Renewable Energy Generation

  • India has to focus on renewable sources of energy more aggressively and at the same time needs to develop indigenous capability to harness solar, wind and tidal powers. For this purpose we desperately need to further international cooperation with various regions (and more specifically with countries in Indo-Pacific region) of the world in managing and maintaining energy security.
  • India needs to acquire hydrocarbon reserves abroad in an urgent and important manner and improve its capacity to generate electricity using nuclear resources by upgrading its nuclear plants like other developed countries.
  • As a signatory of 2016 Paris Agreement, India has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 33-35% as well as reduce its growing hydrocarbon import dependency. The aim is to increase the share of power from low-carbon sources to at least 40% of the total generation by 2022. The government has to push for substituting fossil fuels with cleaner energy sources, particularly solar and wind energy for the power sector and battery operated electric vehicles (EVs) for the transport sector.

Towards Greater Cooperation

  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a joint strategic policy initiative by India and Japan, needs to be strengthened through outreach programmes in Africa and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) , which can counter-balance China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • About 25 percent of the South Asian population still lacks access to electricity and per-capita electricity consumption of the region is far lower than other countries (about 40 watts, where as in USA and China it is about 1680 watts and 460 watts respectively). Considering the great demand for electricity in the region, there is an urgent need to prioritize integrating electricity grids of the region to facilitate energy trade.
  • The component of energy security in the India-US strategic partnership has largely been subsumed under the civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement and in India-US partnership pertaining to renewable energy research and deployment. However, great potential for cooperation between the two countries lies in the demand and supply of crude oil and gas imports.
  • Given its abundance of fossil fuel reserves and its expertise in harnessing renewable energy, India must establish greater cooperation with Australia which is emerging as one of the most significant destinations of energy import.
  • India must exploit and forge cooperation with ASEAN members who are uncomfortable with the expansionist claims of China in the region.
  • Under the ‘Connect Central Asia Policy’, India has to forge strong cooperation with Central Asian republics and jointly participate in large scale e-connectivity and pipeline projects.