Canberra: India and Australia Wednesday agreed on enhancing cooperation in clean coal technology, renewable power and LNG in a bid to meet the burgeoning demand for cheap and environment-friendly energy in one of the fastest growing emerging economies.
Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal today met Minister for Resource, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg on the last day of the India-Australia Energy Dialogue.
The Dialogue seeks to build a strong relationship as well as strengthen institutional framework between the countries across all segments of the energy value chain.
Speaking to reporters, Goyal said the energy dialogue has concluded today with Frydenberg resolving to further the ties between the countries in energy, renewable energy, technology & innovation and skill development.
"Today's meeting was very productive, very constructive and held in a very friendly manner... One of the initiatives that we agreed in today's meeting is to make an annual dialogue and that it would rotate between our two countries. So, I look forward to visiting India to continue these discussions next year," Frydenberg said in a joint press conference held at the Australian Parliament here.
The two countries also talked about Free Trade Area (FTA), Adani Group's investment in Australia and the ties that the countries share at various levels, he added.
Appreciating Australia's efforts in expanding the energy dialogue to cover more issues, Goyal said: "We have also been able to focus the dialogue to outcomes".
He said that he pushed for more active engagement in the area of skill development and bringing Australian expertise on mine safety and efficiency in mining to India.
"The (Australian) Minister was the most cooperative and supportive," Goyal said.
"Australian government's commitment is truly exciting as I can see energy becoming probably the most important and defining part of our engagement with Australia in the years to come, particularly when they have some wonderful work on expanding LNG production in the last few years.
"They are also probably the first country to focus on renewable energy. About 40 years back the University of New South Wales started research in photo voltaic cells. So, clearly Australia has a leadership position in the energy space and across the entire value chain from fuels to generating capacity to improving capacity and grid management," Goyal said.
Several decisions have been made during the course of
this dialogue, one of which is to institutionalise this as an annual dialogue, Goyal said.
"We have broadly agreed to have five working groups to take humongous challenge that scaling up this engagement entails. The officials will sit up and work out the miner details," he added.
These five working groups will broadly focus on coal mining, efficient coal mining, clean coal technologies, etc. Then there is the issue of petroleum products like LNG, efficiency of re-gasification plants and associated equipment related to petroleum and natural gas, Goyal said.
"Number three is renewable energy, it's new scientific developments and large scale roll out. Then we are looking at coal gas, coal gasification, coal bed methane (CBM), all forms of providing more gas out of coal," he added.
India is also looking at carbon capture and sequestration, carbon capture and storage so that coal is used more efficiently, either in the form of gas or by removing the carbon out of that and making it clean, the minister said.
Finally the fifth group will consider smart grids, grid integration, all issues related to technology in the energy sector, he added.
On the trade agreement between India and Australia, Frydenberg said: "This is a question for our Prime Ministers... We very much want an agreement with India. We see India as not just a strategic and political partner for Australia, but a vital economic partner.
"When you see that the strength of the India economy growing at more than 7 percent last year and continuing to grow strongly in the years ahead, Australia wants to be a part of that Indian express. I think the way to streamline our cooperation in the economic sphere is through the Free Trade Agreement` (FTA)."
He further said: I was explaining to the Minister (Goyal) how diverse the Australian economy is. Many people think of us as being overly focused on resources and energy, and yes it is an important part of our economy."
Nearly 10 percent of the Australian GDP is from resources and energy, but 70 percent of the economy is services and there are great opportunities in the export of services, agriculture, he added.
"We have great deal of experience and expertise in infrastructure -- both in construction and financing. There are lots of different areas where I think both the countries can greatly benefit. That's why I think the FTA has an economic imperative..."
On FTA with Australia, Goyal later told reporters that he held dialogues with both Frydenberg as well as Investment and Trade Minister Andrew Robb on the issue.
"The dialogue is progressing. The FTA will only happen only when India's interests are fully protected as well as both the sides benefit equally," he said declining to elaborate any further on the issue.