CSIS Links Clean Energy Economies of Tamil Nadu and Massachusetts
October 28, 2019
WASHINGTON, October 28, 2019: The U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative, led by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), has deepened U.S.-India energy cooperation by linking the energy sectors of Massachusetts and Tamil Nadu.
Led by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), a nine-member delegation comprised of representatives from state government, city of Boston, private sector, and research institutions traveled to Tamil Nadu on October 21. Over the course of several days they engaged with their counterparts through a formal dialogue and site visits with the aim of forging a comprehensive energy relationship tying the two states together.
On October 23, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of Massachusetts held a formal Massachusetts-Tamil Nadu Energy Partnership Dialogue to exchange their strategies on how they are respectively managing their energy transitions. Tamil Nadu, a wind energy rich state, is seeking to effectively integrate large amounts of wind and solar energy into its grid. In addition, it recently released its electric vehicle policy outlining plans to capitalize on its strengths as an automotive manufacturing hub. Massachusetts is currently pioneering the development of offshore wind in the United States and has a thriving clean tech innovation support structure.
Vikram Kapur, additional chief secretary and chairman and managing director of the Tamil Nadu Power Generation and Distribution Corporation opened the dialogue. He was joined by Asia Mariam, managing director of the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, the principal agency charged with handling the state’s renewable energy sector. Rounding out the senior leadership present on the occasion from the Tamil Nadu side, Arun Roy, special secretary from the Tamil Nadu Department of Industries, extended an arm to bolster energy-related trade and investment ties between the two states.
“Despite being a leader in renewable energy deployment in India, there is tremendous scope to understand how a state like Tamil Nadu can manage its energy transition through such exchanges,” said Kapur. “We hope that the dialogue will facilitate better understanding between the two states in the areas of energy policy, education, as well as trade and investments. These learnings can be formalized into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).”
While the two sides hope to sign a formal strategic energy cooperation agreement outlining the contours of their partnership soon, the groundwork to identify specific linkages between research institutions, private sector, and the energy agencies of the two states has begun.
“Climate change requires global leadership and partnerships, and Massachusetts is pleased to work with India and Tamil Nadu in collaborating on the policies, technologies, and partnerships that will lead to cost-effective greenhouse gas mitigation,” said Patrick Woodcock, undersecretary of energy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This visit builds on previous exchanges CSIS has been facilitating between the two states including the visit of Mr. Kapur to Massachusetts in early August as part of a scoping mission to identify potential partners to link with Tamil Nadu’s energy stakeholders. During the visit, the delegation engaged with the leadership of India’s National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) to learn about India’s broader energy transition and the role of wind energy. Delegation members including the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst put forth possible collaboration between their institutions and NIWE to further NIWE’s priorities in establishing a blade testing facility and enhancing wind technology education and research opportunities. To support the broader state-to-state agenda, the city of Boston too made a link with the Chennai Municipal Corporation’s climate change division.
Supported by the U.S. Department of State along with several philanthropies, the U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative has facilitated 15 partnerships over the last 3 years between U.S. energy stakeholders and Indian state governments. Speaking on the occasion, Kartikeya Singh, manager of the initiative, stated, “if you want to engage with India on her energy transition, head to the states. That is where the action is and the highest possibility of making an impact.”