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India is the third largest energy consumer in the world, heavily dependent on imports for providing electricity to over 70 percent people, living in the rural areas and to the rapidly growing industries and urban population.
Although India’s Draft National Energy Policy projects that India will become self-sufficient in thermal coal by 2037 it currently remains heavily dependent on coal imports from overseas, including Australia, totalling $5 billion. India is Australia’s fourth largest resources and energy trading partner with a trade volume of $14.5 billion.
The Australia-India Joint Working Group on Energy and Minerals constituted in 2000 provides the bilateral mechanism to address resource and energy cooperation and implement the Strategic Action Plan, 2008.
Australia’s Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism remains engaged in discussions with several Indian ministries including, Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to boost bilateral trade and investments.
In Australia, while the political discourse over renewable energy and Paris Accord has hit a road block, India has championed the cause of International Solar Alliance in accordance with Paris Accord commitments.
This is reflective of India’s leadership in promoting research, development and application of renewable energy sources for meeting cooking and electricity requirements, particularly in the rural areas. This provides a huge opportunity for the Australian based companies to tap into the vast Indian energy market covering hydrocarbons, non-conventional hydrocarbons, natural gas, deep water exploration, coal mining, clean coal technology, renewable energy, smart grids and meters, energy efficiency and research and development.
Australia has ardently supported India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and facilitated a waiver from the group to enable uranium export to the country. Both sides have signed a civil-nuclear deal to facilitate the export of uranium by Australian companies, to help India increase power generation from nuclear sources from currently 3 percent to around 9 percent over the next 20 years.
This initiative seeks to complement the Australia-India energy cooperation through research collaboration, joint conferences, seminars, industry engagements and multi-track policy dialogues.
The book entitled, “India’s Pursuit of Energy Security: Domestic Measures, Foreign Policy and Geopolitics”, Routledge, 2019, by Dr Ashok Sharma, University of New South Wales was launched by Mr Matthew Hayden AM, Mr Damian Voltz and Dr Ashutosh Misra at the Gabba on 13 November. Dr Sharma shared his insights on the book on the occasion.
A very productive meeting on 28 June 2019 between Kunwar Manvendra Singh, a senior Bharatiya Janta Party member, former minister and 3 times Indian federal parliamentarian, and Ms Jessica Pugh, Queensland Member of Parliament for Mount Ommaney on the potential for cooperation in renewable energy between Queensland and India.
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