2023 JFIPP Research Fellow - Parul Bakshi

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Parul Bakshi

Research Fellow, FSR Global / Guest Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi

[Project Title]
Evolving energy security: Case of Japan and USA and its implications for the Indo-Pacific

Project Summary

An energy transition is broadly defined as the pathway to transforming the energy mix towards low carbon, sustainable and renewable forms of energy. One of its key components is maintaining energy security. Traditionally, energy security has encapsulated the 4 A’s . availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability . but scholars today also focus on defined aspects such as minimal vulnerability, enhanced resilience and equitable access to energy.

Over the past decades, the classical distinction between importers and exporters of energy has blurred. A traditional importer such as the United States is today a crucial energy exporter after its shale gas revolution. Further transformations in the energy landscape due to the global clean energy transition are expected to augment the energy self-sufficiency ratio of nations as their dependency on domestic renewable sources increase, leading to improved energy security. While this might be the case, the belief that such transitions could lead to reduced volatility of energy security is far-fetched. The increasing risk of geopolitical turbulence makes it imperative to promote shared interests and principles of energy security in the Indo-Pacific region.

The ongoing transition away from fossil fuels will usher in a growing reliance on procuring supplies of hydrogen, ammonia, biofuels and other alternatives. Renewables will therefore alter the arenas of energy interaction, transform traditional energy markets and mark a shift in trading partners while reshaping patterns of conflict and cooperation between countries. Since the Indo-Pacific will be a major energy hub that houses critical and strategic energy trade routes, this reshaping will be most pronounced in the region.

The proposed research uses this background to study and analyse the varying definitions of energy security specifically in Japan and USA. It focuses on the need to view energy security from a political and public policy lens and reflect upon how policy actions would be the driving force for renewables in Japan and USA. Further, the study of Japan and USA as two key players within the Indo-Pacific can help unravel the differing factors and ways to ensure energy security in the near future, only in the respective countries but its impact across the region.

The central ideas behind the research project, therefore are:

  1. 1)To understand and assess the historicity behind varying perspectives and definitions of energy security
  2. 2)To analyse the following three major shifts affecting energy security . (i) the growing need of critical minerals for energy transition, (ii) impact of ambitious vision to rely on green hydrogen, and (iii) the role of nuclear energy within the energy transition
  3. 3)To assess the evolution of the understanding energy security stemming from energy transition while analysing the impact of the abovementioned shifts on energy security

The future of smooth energy transitions and the development of a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific relies on a deeper understanding of evolving energy security and fostering a rules-based order safeguarding the same. As the Indo-Pacific comes under the spotlight with major players attempting to expand their influence, energy can act as a means to further relations and interests. The question thus arises whether the Indo-Pacific prepared for the new contours of energy security?

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