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Energy, Forestry, and Global Climate Change

India Energy Solar Power


India is today the world’s third largest Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitter, with the power sector being the largest single contributor. Energy is a key priority for India’s economic growth. To deliver sustained economic growth of 7-8 percent per year, India needs to increase its primary energy supply by three to four times, and its electricity supply by five to seven times. Such a scenario would substantially increase GHG emissions. At the same time, India faces the challenge of improving the reliability and adequacy of energy supplies while making modern energy services accessible and affordable to the entire population. Innovations and large-scale adoption and deployment of low-carbon technologies (energy efficient technologies, renewable energy, and clean fossil fuels) will play a central role in global efforts to address climate change. The forestry sector also plays an important role in mitigating climate change. Improving forest management reduces emissions, enhances carbon sequestration, and is among the most cost-effective ways to address climate change. The rapid degradation of forests, largely due to population pressures and accelerated economic growth, adversely affects the ability of India’s forests to provide goods and services, and their ability to function as “carbon sinks” to help mitigate climate change.


USAID directly supports the clean energy and sustainable landscapes (forestry) priority sectors under India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC). In the energy sector, USAID emphasizes low-carbon development strategies, climate-proofing development, and national planning and capacity building. Activities in India focus on reducing carbon emissions by promoting renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and cleaner fossil fuel technologies. Identifying and scaling up innovations that support low-carbon economic development while meeting India’s growing energy demands are a key focus of USAID/India’s clean energy program. 

In the forestry sector, USAID emphasizes reducing emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration through forests. The sustainable landscapes program is helping the Government of India to take Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+ (REDD+) actions to scale. The activities focus on improving ecosystem management, developing carbon inventory tools, and putting in place a framework for providing effective incentives to forest-dependent communities.

Clean Energy: The Clean Energy program focuses on reducing GHG emissions in the energy, industry, and urban sectors. The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) program supports and strengthens clean energy-technology innovation and commercialization in India. The USAID-led “deployment” component (PACE-D) builds on USAID’s four decades of experience in the energy sector. This includes the development and promotion of energy efficient technologies such as smart grids; increasing the supply of renewable energy by promoting commercial deployment of renewable energy technologies; building capacity for the development of low carbon, cleaner fossil fuel technologies and management practices; and developing relevant GHG mitigation programs. PACE-D aims to help accelerate India’s transition to a high performing, low emissions, and energy-secure economy. 

The USAID/India-led SARI/EI works to promote cross-border electricity trade in South Asia to revitalize and accelerate regional economic development. Started in 2000, SARI/EI was instrumental in operationalizing the 500 megawatt (MW) transmission link between Bheramara (Bangladesh) – Baharampur (India). The program also set the stage for the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member nations to adopt the Inter-Governmental Framework Agreement for Electricity Cooperation, and enabled the signing of the historic India-Nepal Power Trade Agreement. SARI/EI facilitated a Memorandum of Understanding between India and Sri Lanka for a high capacity transmission interconnection, and supported the planning of the transmission link between Dhalkebar (Nepal) and Muzzafarpur (India), which will soon substantially expand power trade between the nations. In its current phase, SARI/EI has helped avoid 848,738 tons of carbon emissions in the South Asia region.  

Sustainable Landscapes: The Sustainable Landscapes program aims to reduce emissions and enhance carbon sequestration through India’s forests. The five-year ‘Partnership for Land Use Science’ (Forest-PLUS) program will facilitate an enabling environment and strengthen capacity for REDD+ implementation in India. Working in collaboration with the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, local governments, and local communities, the program addresses sector barriers, is building human and institutional capacity, design and deploy improved scientific methods for ecosystem management and carbon inventory, and design and deploy programs to provide better incentives to forest-dependent communities. USAID’s interagency agreement with the U.S. Forest Service complements and supports the Forest-PLUS program. 

Alliance for scaling up off-grid renewables: In order to improve access to energy and broaden the penetration of innovative, off-grid renewable technologies, USAID/India is developing an alliance of stakeholders that make up the off-grid ecosystem. The alliance, currently under design, will engage and connect relevant stakeholders to localize and, where possible, replicate off-grid solutions. The alliance will bring in the expertise and support of varied stakeholders, including government, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, energy service providers, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and financial institutions. 

For additional info on USAID India Clean Energy and Environment Office activities:

Visit the

Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN) at http://thecleannetwork.org/;
Forest-PLUS program at http://www.forestplus.org/;
Partnership for Accelerated Clean Energy Deployment (PACE-D) at http://www.pace-d.com/;
South Asian Regional Initiative for Energy Integration at http://www.sari-energy.org/;
wPOWER, a women's entrepreneurship program at http://sspindia.org/downloads/2015-wPOWER-Brochure.pdf  

Last updated: August 22, 2016

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