Energising India-Japan relations

Energy security and global environment are high priority challenges for both India and Japan. They require continuous and effective action. Both sides need to deepen their technology cooperation, given that both are fuel-guzzling countries.

Energy is one of the most important inputs for economic growth and human development. At the same time, the human development story has put a massive strain on the ecology of the planet due to an overuse of fossil fuel-based forms of energy to drive growth and development. The 2011 natural calamity at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan underlined the urgency required for investing in clean and renewable forms of energy.

Japan has been widely recognised as an energy-efficient nation; it's a pioneer in achieving high levels of energy efficiency in their manufacturing operations. It is a leader among the major industrialised nations in promoting efficient use of energy and has the lowest energy consumption per unit of GDP when compared with the US, France and Germany (Japan: 0.11, US: 0.17). The experience of Japan in the area of energy conservation and renewable energy provides enormous opportunities for India to learn and adopt. For example, iron and steel is one of the key energy-intensive industrial sectors, both in India and Japan. With a voluntary action programme initiated way back in the 90s, the Japanese steel industry was able to bring down its specific energy consumption (energy required to produce one tonne of steel) to one of the lowest in the world.

In this context, it is important to mention that the two Governments initiated collaborative activities recently and have now come up with at least 17 different sets of technologies that the Indian industry can adopt. These have been arrived at based on various public and private collaborative meetings between the Indian and the Japanese iron and steel industry.

Similar options exist in many other sectors like cement, food processing, appliances, solar energy etc in various sectors of the Indian economy.

The Japanese and Indian Governments are implementing another project that aims to promote energy efficiency in the Indian small and medium enterprises sector through demonstration of energy efficient and innovative cross-cutting technologies that have not been tried out yet in India.

The project is being coordinated by Japan Science and Technology Agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. It is implemented in India by The Energy and Resources Institute and selected SMEs, in collaboration with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan, Kyoto University's Graduate School of Engineering, and select Japanese suppliers of low carbon technologies.

By deploying a strategy that directly involved businesses on both supply and demand sides (Japanese LCT supplier and Indian SMEs) along with capacity building support, the project has successfully demonstrated electric heat pump technology in two dairy units in India; and gas heat pump technology in two foundries in the Rajkot engineering cluster. These LCTs are yielding energy savings of 30 per cent-50 per cent.

This project provides a good model for mutually-beneficial cooperation between India and Japan to promote energy efficiency in the Indian SME sector. The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation, Japan's largest public research & development management organisation has also been demonstrating Japan's advanced technologies in the field of energy, environmental technology, smart communities, industrial technology, and climate change issues in India, in collaboration with various Government agencies.

Furthermore, since 2006, TERI, in association with NEDO has been co-hosting the India-Japan Energy Forum which provides an opportunity to Indian and Japanese experts to exchange their ideas towards an energy secure sustainable model of growth. The last one was held in New Delhi in September this year. These forums contributed immensely in providing direction to relevant policy makers, business communities and technocrats about the sectors they need to focus for a clean future.

During the seventh India-Japan Energy Dialogue held recently in New Delhi on September 12, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, and Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, reiterated the importance of such forums in promoting industrial and technology cooperation between the two countries, and acknowledged that regular inputs from the forum to the dialogue have facilitated expansion of bilateral energy cooperation on a commercial basis.

Recently, TERI and NEDO have also conducted joint research studies on means to accelerate development and deployment of smart grid technologies, small wind power, small hydro-power and second-generation biofuels in India. These studies indicate that there is immense potential for India to replicate Japan's model of energy management and energy conservation.

The issues of energy security and global environment are high priority challenges for both India and Japan, requiring continuous and effective action. In particular, to overcome challenges like increasing energy demand and soaring energy prices, both sides need to deepen their technology cooperation and focus on collaborative research, development, demonstration, and diffusion in energy conservation and renewable energy sectors.

Both the countries need sustainable energy solutions which are scalable and economical as well. The two countries will have to identify focussed research areas for joint research and technology customisation to suit the demand of Indian industrial, commercial and residential sectors.

Japan is ready to partner in the creation of sizeable, sustainable systems for energy-with India as a model for the world. A good example is the the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, that is being implemented with assistance from many Japanese partners.