USAID has launched more than $28 million in activities to advance regional energy markets in South Asia to strengthen energy security and expand access to energy across the Indo-Pacific region.
US Agency for International Development (USAID) acting assistant administrator for Asia Javier Piedra on Wednesday announced the new activities at the two day long third Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted virtually out of Hanoi, Vietnam.
The assistance was made under the US’s Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative, according to a statement.
The USAID new investments and other parts of the US government will help the people of South Asia grapple with the new opportunities and challenges brought on by advanced energy technologies.
“The private sector is central to these challenges, which include limited access to private capital, minimal private-sector engagement across the energy supply-chain, and few transparent and open energy markets,” the statement added.
The US’s activities will improve access to affordable, secure, reliable, and sustainable energy through the advancement of expanded, transparent, and efficient regional energy markets.
The new activities included South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE), South Asia Regional Energy Hub (SAREH) and South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP).
SAGE is a consortium that consists of USAID, the US Department of Energy (DOE), and three of DOE’s National Laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
The consortium will work with energy leaders in South Asia to foster technical exchanges and analysis to keep their countries on the cutting edge of advanced energy technologies.
The activity will undertake state-of-the-art technical analyses, modeling, and research on advanced technologies to create market opportunities for the private sector; equip national governments in South Asia with critical information and consultation to build their capacity to make strategic investment decisions; and enable and enhance access by South Asian stakeholders to relevant private-sector partners.
USAID created the multimedia platform SAREH to share Asia EDGE’s results throughout South Asia; convene and coordinate various South Asian stakeholders; and enhance knowledge-sharing, research, and resources between governments and the private sector in South Asian countries and USAID’s Missions in the region.
In partnership with the United States Energy Association, SAREH will provide a platform for the private sector through its knowledge-dissemination network to present innovations and technologies to a wide range of stakeholders in South Asia, as well as to facilitate engagement with policy-makers and regulators.
The planned SAREP will seek partnerships with the private sector proactively, to create an enabling environment characterized by sound policies, effective institutions, transparency, non-restrictive competition, and the reliable enforcement of contracts.
SAREP will use a variety of tools to increase the flow of finance, provide technical assistance and business-development services, and improve the bankability of energy projects to enhance private-sector investments.
Through these three activities, USAID will award funding to US and South Asian experts who will develop energy models and evaluate proposed energy solutions; to legal teams who will assist with effective and transparent government regulation; and to innovators engaged in research and development to ensure South Asian countries can take advantage of more energy solutions.
The activities will allow energy to move more freely and efficiently across the region’s borders, and will also reinforce efforts to advance high-quality infrastructure under initiatives like the Blue Dot Network.
Under Asia EDGE, USAID’s funding to develop a competitive regional power market in South Asia has led to transformative policy changes that have increased the trade in power in the region by 3,500 megawatts, which is equivalent to the electricity used by 2.3 million households.
In December 2018, the government of India revised its guidelines on cross-border power trade, which has enabled other countries to use India’s transmission lines as a pass-through for their electricity exchanges.
This included Nepal and Bangladesh, which struck an agreement in June 2019 to trade power by using Indian transmission lines.