US-Asia Pacific Partnership for Sustainable Energy Looks Ahead

Photo: Ericsson[/caption]

A new US-Asia Pacific partnership, formally called the US-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Partnership for a Sustainable Energy, is an alliance between President Obama, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that proposes the expansion of countries’ energy and environmental cooperation by encouraging the development of affordable, secure, and cleaner energy supplies throughout the region. The US will provide up to $6 billion to support the initiative.

The partnership recognizes that energy and the environment are pressing issues for the Asia Pacific, and recognizing the importance of these issues will expand existing frameworks to protect the environment and capitalize on available energy resources. By building upon existing energy initiatives that include the ASEAN-United States Energy Cooperation Work Plan, the APEC Energy Working Group, and the East Asia Summit Energy Ministers, the initiative should expand best practices, energy connectivity and integration, and collaboration on projects.

The partnership is intended to “drive investment and facilitate progress on four key regional priorities: renewables and cleaner energy; markets and interconnectivity; the emerging role of natural gas; and sustainable development.” The $6 billion that the US will contribute to the initiative will be invested in four arenas:

  1. Up to $5 billion in export credit financing to increase access to American technology, services, and equipment for the implementation of energy infrastructure projects
  2. $1 billion for sustainable power and energy infrastructure projects (provided by OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation).
  3. Support from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in the form of programs in partner countries in the areas of power generation, power distribution modernization, assistance with upgrading grid efficiencies to accommodate renewable power, and unconventional gas development.
  4. $1 billion in the form of an energy-capacity building fund from the US State Department to support Partnership activities through project preparation and technical assistance.

The USTDA has already begun its efforts in the region through the US-ASEAN Smart Grid Workshop in Vietnam, which is part of the US-ASEAN Connectivity Cooperation Initiative. Through the workshop, the USTDA is assisting in the standardization of smart grid and transmission networks in the region, which in turn will improve energy efficiency. USTDA Director Leocadia I. Zak, stated that:

“We see enormous benefits of cooperation with international partners in finding and utilizing economical and efficient tools to address the challenges associated with power distribution, transmission, and management.”

The new forged partnership is part of a longterm plan to invest in energy needs in the region. According to the White House, $9 trillion in investment for electricity will be needed through 2035 to meet the increasing demand in the region, offering an opportunity for US industries to capitalize on the energy market in the longterm.