US-India Clean Energy Partnership Set to Open New Vistas

Pratim Biswas

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St. Louis – India is set to leapfrog in the areas of clean energy over the developed countries by skipping older, more expensive technologies.

After the establishment in 2009 of the US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, in April 2012, the US Department of Energy announced the winners of a competition designed to identify problem areas in solar energy, second-generation biofuels and the energy efficiency of buildings. The winning solar energy consortium was led on the American side by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and on the Indian side by the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore. It also included Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), which is paired with one of its McDonnell Academy partners IIT-Bombay.

According to Pratim Biswas, PhD, chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at WUSTL, and the director of the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP), the idea behind a recently announced US-India consortium in solar energy is that India might be able to leapfrog energy production technology, moving directly to solar in areas of the country that have never been electrified.

US President Barack Obama and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy and in 2009 established the US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, which also will be supported by $150 million in public and private funds.

Biswas estimated that altogether the consortium would receive about $50 million over the next five years, some for research, but some also for the deployment of solar systems in India.

“There are exciting opportunities to explore alternative energy futures in places like India,” Biswas said. “The collaboration with India gives us the chance to explore solar’s potential in a setting where its characteristics are better matched to needs and market demand. Some of the technology that develops in this encouraging environment might then transfer back to us.” (IATNS)

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