Thomas Lutken
Senior Project Manager
Energy and Environmental Affairs

[email protected]

Pathways to Energy Security in the Indo-Pacific

Building Sustainable Energy Transitions

On May 4, 5, and 6, 2021, NBR hosted a virtual conference, “Pathways to Energy Security in the Indo-Pacific: Building Sustainable Energy Transitions.” The conference focused on how the Indo-Pacific can increase cooperation to aid energy transitions amid changing national strategies and priorities. Panels explored energy integration, sustainable supply chains, the technical challenges of renewable goals, opportunities for market liberalization, and the role PPPs could play in supporting transitions.



DAY ONE ⯁ Tuesday, May 4

Welcome and Introduction
Roy Kamphausen, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Keynote Address
Ambassador Virginia PALMER, U.S. Department of State

Energy Transitions in the Indo-Pacific

Mikkal E. HERBERG, The National Bureau of Asian Research; University of California, San Diego
Mandira ADHIKARI, Nepal Electric Authority
Toru KUBO, Asian Development Bank
Huong LE THU, Australian Strategic Policy Institute
Jane NAKANO, Center for Strategic and International Studies

DAY TWO ⯁ Wednesday, May 5

Updating Approaches to Energy Markets

Energy is both a large expense and source of revenue for many in the Indo-Pacific, and as such governments frequently subsidize its use to build or protect domestic energy and economic security. Yet problems arise when seeking international investment to provide necessary infrastructure funding and establish competitive markets. States in the Indo-Pacific will need to liberalize key parts of their energy markets while avoiding political pushback. When is a subsidy appropriate, and how can countries balance development needs with energy access goals?

Jeanne CHOI, The National Bureau of Asian Research
HAN Phoumin, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia
Pravakar SAHOO, Institute of Economic Growth
David WOGAN, Asia Pacific Energy Research Center

Technical Hurdles to Meeting Renewable Goals

As part of domestic and regional energy transitions, governments are pushing to clean up their energy mixes, yet doing so will require more than direct investment in renewable sources or other low- or zero-carbon energy supplies. Governments will need to overcome technical hurdles like grid harmonization to allow cross-border trade and increased flexibility through storage or improved power management. What are the key policy or market barriers to addressing grid harmonization? How can environments for research and development be strengthened to facilitate clean energy transitions?

Tom LUTKEN, The National Bureau of Asian Research
Astha GUPTA, International Energy Agency
Twarath SUTABUTR, Ministry of Energy, Thailand
Clara GILLISPIE, The National Bureau of Asian Research

DAY THREE ⯁ Thursday, May 6

What Does a Sustainable and Secure Supply Chain Look Like?

As evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chains are internationally integrated and vulnerable to disruption. Critical minerals (with a majority coming from China) raise special concerns for countries seeking to diversify supply sources, as their demand is likely to increase as renewables and battery production rise. What actions can governments take to ensure a sustainable and secure supply chain? How might trade partnerships and standards be strengthened to minimize future disruptions?

Jim SLUTZ, National Petroleum Council
Mirza HUDA, OSCE Academy in Bishke
Cameron JOHNSON, TidalWave Solutions
Kristin VEKASI, University of Maine

Closing Address


Mandira ADHIKARI has been working as a Mechanical Engineer in the Power Trade Department of Nepal Electricity Authority since 2014. Her major task is to facilitate the signing of power purchase agreements with independent power producers (IPPs) and to monitor IPPs’ hydropower projects under construction to check for standard/legal/contractual compliances. Prior to this, she worked on the Nepal Energy Efficiency Program with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GmbH), where she gained experiences on energy efficiency in grid-connected and rural households. Her interests in energy sector mostly stemmed from having witnessed an ongoing paradigm shift in the Nepalese power sector, which includes major policy changes, unbundling of the power sector, and initiation of power markets. Ms. Adhikari earned an MSc in mechanical systems design and engineering from Tribhuvan University and an MBA from Pokhara University.

Jeanne CHOI is a Nonresident Fellow at NBR and PhD Candidate in Northeast Asian Studies and Energy, Resources, and Environment at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Her research pertains to the political economy of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets in Japan and the Republic of Korea. Prior to her role at NBR, Ms. Choi conducted research in Tokyo on Japanese energy policy and overseas LNG investments as a Boren Fellow under the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). She has also worked as the New Programs Manager for the Clinton Climate Initiative, leading the development of new climate change and energy transition programs for the Clinton Foundation, and in strategic planning for LNG export infrastructure development for EnTX Group.

Clara GILLISPIE is a Senior Advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). She also serves as the official U.S. delegate to the Energy Research Institute Network, an East Asia Summit-linked network whose inputs are designed to inform the formal East Asia Summit process.  Ms. Gillispie’s subject-matter expertise covers topics ranging from technology policymaking to energy security to geopolitical trends in the Asia-Pacific. She is the author of numerous policy essays and reports, with publications including “How Asia’s Auto Boom Shapes Its Energy Security Strategies” (co-authored with Laura Schwartz, 2019), “How Can Japan Compete in a Changing Global Market?” (2013), “Restricted Access: Internet Censorship and the Emergence of Blogs in China,” and several forthcoming publications on 5G topics. Ms. Gillispie is regular called on to directly brief her research and analysis to U.S. and Asian government officials, senior industry representatives, and the media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR’s Marketplace. Previously, Ms. Gillispie served as a Senior Director for Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs at NBR. She was also a 2020 CFR International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie India and 2017–18 SAFE Energy Security Fellow, and has worked for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Technology, and Space; Detica Federal Inc. (now a part of BAE Systems); and the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

Astha GUPTA has worked in India’s renewable energy sector for seven years. She is currently a consultant for the International Energy Agency as the lead country analyst and coordinator for India, a role in which she focuses on clean energy transitions in emerging economies. Prior to this, Ms. Gupta worked at The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), where she focused on renewable energy policy research, decentralized clean energy solutions, and assessment of bioenergy potential for industrial applications. Her experience related to energy access encompasses electrification in India and the review of government energy policy and initiatives. During her tenure at TERI, she was responsible for coordinating the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) training program on “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” for the government officials representing countries in Asia and Africa. Ms. Gupta completed a master’s degree in renewable energy engineering and management in 2013 from TERI School of Advanced Studies in New Delhi. 

HAN Phoumin serves as a Senior Energy Economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia. He has worked at various international and intergovernmental organizations and multidisciplinary research consortiums related to energy markets and technologies, environment, integrated water resource management, governance, and economic development. Much of Dr. Han’s career in the past twelve years has revolved around the power sector, especially in the areas of electricity market integration, waste to energy, sustainable hydropower development, renewable energy policy research, energy efficiency and conservation, clean coal technology, energy security, and energy demand and supply forecasting.

Mikkal HERBERG is a Senior Advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research and Research Director of NBR’s Energy Security Program. He is also a senior lecturer on international and Asian energy at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego. Previously, Mr. Herberg spent 20 years in the oil industry in Strategic Planning roles for ARCO, where from 1997 to 2000 was Director for Global Energy and Economics, responsible for worldwide energy, economic, and political analysis. He also headed country risk analysis, responsible for advising the executive management on risk conditions and investment strategies in countries and regions where ARCO had major investments. His previous positions with ARCO included Director of Portfolio Risk Management and Director for Emerging Markets.

Mikkal Herberg writes and speaks extensively on Asian energy issues to the energy industry, governments, and major research institutions in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, including the U.S., China, and Japan. He is cited frequently in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, South China Morning Post, Asahi Shimbun, Reuters, NIKKEI News, Caijing, and National Public Radio. 

Mirza Sadaqat HUDA is a postdoctoral research fellow at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He is also a nonresident fellow at Energy Peace Partners in California. Currently, he is studying the energy-related investments of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the development of renewable energy in South Asia, and global climate governance. He has engaged in multiple projects on energy and regional integration at the University of Queensland, Nanyang Technological University, and Griffith University. Dr. Huda’s analysis on energy integration and natural resource governance in Asia has been published in Energy Policy, Geoforum, Water International, and Energy Research & Social Science. He regularly contributes op-eds to the Policy Forum, the East Asia Forum, and the Australian Institute of International Affairs. He is the author of Energy Cooperation in South Asia: Utilizing Natural Resources for Peace and Sustainable Development. Dr. Huda earned a PhD from the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Macquarie University and the University of Canberra, respectively.

Cameron JOHNSON has over 20 years in management across various industries in China. He drives the consulting and advising initiatives at Tidal Wave Solutions and is a Professor at New York University where he teaches Leading Global Organizations and Project Management. Mr. Johnson’s expertise focuses on developing strategy in difficult business environments, supply chain and manufacturing digitalization, turning a business around to profitability, and operational excellence across a global company. He was the Asia general manager at a leading carbon fiber manufacturer for 7 years, where he delivered an average of 48% annual revenue growth. He was also the operations director for a global sourcing and risk management company and served as business manager at Microsoft. Mr. Johnson participates extensively in the American Chamber of Commerce. He served as the chairman of the Aerospace Sub-Committee in 2015-2017 and co-chaired the Future Leaders Committee from 2016-2018. He is currently Vice Chair of the Manufacturers’ Business Council, and an advisor to the National IDC Industrial Technological Innovation Strategic Alliance, a China based technology association.

Roy D. KAMPHAUSEN is President of the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Mr. Kamphausen joined NBR in 2004 and formerly served as senior vice president for research, providing executive leadership to NBR’s policy research agenda and directing engagement with the administration, U.S. Congress, and foreign embassies in Washington, D.C. In April 2018, Mr. Kamphausen was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be a commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. As a specialist on a range of U.S.-Asia issues, Mr. Kamphausen has led and contributed substantively to NBR’s research initiatives. He is the author, contributing author, or co-editor of numerous publications, including chapters in NBR’s Strategic Asia series; the Carlisle People’s Liberation Army Conference series, and an NBR Special Report on innovation in India (2015).

As deputy director of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (IP Commission), Mr. Kamphausen contributed to the IP Commission’s Report on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (2013), Update to the IP Commission Report (2017), and IP Commission 2019 Review. His areas of expertise include China’s People’s Liberation Army, U.S.-China defense relations, East Asian security issues, innovation, and intellectual property protection. He has presented on these topics throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe to government and corporate decision-makers. Mr. Kamphausen is frequently cited in U.S. and international media, including CNN, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, Newsweek, and the New York Times. Mr. Kamphausen lectures regularly at leading U.S. military institutions, including the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) and the U.S Army War College. He also regularly briefs members of Congress and advises leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense. 

Toru KUBO is the Director of the Southeast Asia Department’s energy division at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Mr. Kubo joined ADB in 2004 as the organization’s first full-time climate change staff. He was one of the original members of ADB’s clean energy team which started the Asia Clean Energy Forum and established the Carbon Market Program, including one of the world’s first post-Kyoto carbon funds. He also led ADB’s work to promote climate change technologies through venture capital funds and helped establish various other initiatives focused on the nexus of climate change and energy security. In 2011 he was seconded to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat to help design the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network. Since 2014 he has focused on clean energy programs and projects in Southeast Asian countries, including a two-year posting in ADB’s Jakarta office to focus on energy and climate change operations in Indonesia. Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Kobu was the Asia business manager and policy analyst at Trexler Climate and Energy Services and a research associate at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Huong LE THU is a senior analyst in the Defence and Strategy Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Her research addresses Southeast Asia’s relations with the great powers and is interested in the connection between energy and national security. Among Dr. Le Thu’s current projects is an assessment of the drivers of strategic competition among China, Japan, and the United States to shape energy security and infrastructure development in the Mekong subregion. Prior to joining ASPI, she worked at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in Australia, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, and the Institute of International Relations in Taiwan, as well as at intergovernmental organizations. Dr. Le Thu was among the inaugural IISS Shangri-La Young Leaders in 2016 and was recognized as one of the “40 under 40 most influential Asian Australians” in 2019. She has published with the Pacific Review, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Asia Policy, Financial Times, Nikkei Asian Review, Global Asia, Straits Times, Japan Times, Taipei Times, and Australian Financial Review, among others. Dr. Le Thu speaks five languages and has published in four of them. Dr. Le Thu received her PhD from the National Cheching University, Taiwan. 

Thomas LUTKEN is a Project Manager with the Energy and Environmental Affairs group at NBR. In this role, he helps manage NBR’s ongoing projects on environmental policy, economic development, and energy security. Prior to joining NBR, Mr. Lutken spent six months working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for their US-India Policy Studies section and a year working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a hydrologic technician. Mr. Lutken earned an undergraduate degree in environmental science from Brown University in 2014 and a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2019, concentrating in environmental economics and policy. His master’s thesis was an economic study of the impacts of electricity quality in rural India. Mr. Lutken’s academic interests include climate change, alternative energy, and electricity policy.

Jane NAKANO is a senior fellow in the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Her research interests include U.S. energy policy; global market and policy developments concerning natural gas, nuclear energy, and critical minerals; and energy security and climate issues in the Asia-Pacific region. She frequently writes and speaks on these issues at domestic and international conferences and to media around the world. She has also testified before Congress on U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on U.S.-China nuclear energy cooperation. Prior to joining CSIS in 2010, Nakano worked in the Office of Policy and International Affairs in the U.S. Department of Energy, where she covered a host of energy, economic, and political issues in Asia. From 2001 to 2002, she served at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo as special assistant to the energy attaché. Nakano graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Ambassador Virginia E. PALMER is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR). Prior to this role, she became Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for ENR on November 4, 2019.  She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister Counselor. She was most recently the Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malawi from January 2015 until June 2019 and as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa from 2011 to 2014. As Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam from 2008-2011, she promoted major trade initiatives and helped shape new U.S. dioxin (Agent Orange) remediation efforts. 

From 2005-2008, Ambassador Palmer was the State Department’s Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, responsible for terrorist finance issues and establishing regional initiatives to strengthen partner nations’ capacity to degrade terrorist capability. From 2004-2005, she was Director of the East Asia Bureau’s Office of Economic Policy and the alternate U.S. Senior Official for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). From 2001-2004, she was Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Other postings during her 33-year career include assignments in Canada, Zimbabwe, China, and Hong Kong working on political-military affairs, corruption, trade and agriculture, labor and human rights issues, health and development. In the State Department, she served in the Office of Maghreb Affairs and the Secretary’s Operations Center. She is the recipient of numerous Superior Honor, Meritorious Honor and Senior Performance awards.

Ambassador Palmer obtained her Masters and did doctoral studies at the University of Virginia.  She received a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and also attended Washington University in St. Louis. She speaks Chinese and French. 

Pravakar SAHOO is a Professor at the Institute for Economic Growth, where he teaches macroeconomics, international development, and international trade and finance. Prior to this position, Dr. Sahoo has held numerous fellowship and research positions at institutes such as ICRIER, Delhi; Bruegel, Belgium; East West Center; Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Japan; University of Saitama; University Antwerp; PRI, MoF, Japan; Institute of Developing Economies (IDE), Japan; MSH, France; and RIIO, China. Dr. Sahoo received his PhD in Economics from the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. He has wide international exposure and served as a consultant to several national and international organizations, with work experience on India, South Asia, Japan, Korea, China, and the United States.

Jim SLUTZ is the Director of Study Operations for the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an independent federal advisory committee to the United States, reporting to the Secretary of Energy. Prior to NPC, Jim led a global consulting practice with projects in North America, Asia, and Europe. Previously, Mr. Slutz served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and before that as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Oil and Natural Gas at DOE. Prior to joining DOE, Mr. Slutz served as the Indiana Oil and Gas Director, regulating the State’s upstream oil and gas industry and natural gas storage wells. He is a former Vice-Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Mr. Slutz holds an MBA degree from The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business, and a B.S. degree from The Ohio State University, School of Natural Resources. He serves as chair of the Committee on Earth Resources and is a member of the Board of Earth Sciences and Resources of the National Academies of Sciences. In addition, he serves as an advisor to the National Bureau of Asia Research and is a Board Member of the local chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), currently serving as program chair for the Inaugural 2020 SPE/AAPG/SEG Washington DC Technology and Sustainability Symposium.

Twarath SUTABUTR is the Chief Inspector General at the Ministry of Energy, Thailand. He also holds leadership positions with the PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Ltd., Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, the Asian Institute of Technology, Dhanarak Asset Development Co., Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association, and the Civil Service Sub-Commission of the Office of the Civil Service Commission. Dr. Sutabutr received a B.E. in civil engineering from Chulalongkorn University, an M.S. in soil mechanics from the Asian Institute of Technology, and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kristin VEKASI is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. Her research interests focus on international political economy, and the dynamics of political conflict, foreign direct investment, nationalism, and the geopolitics of supply chains. She specializes in Northeast Asia, and has spent years conducting research in China, Japan, and South Korea. Her book “Risk Management Strategies of Japanese Companies in China” (Routledge 2019) explores how Japanese multinational corporations mitigate political risk in China. Her current research examines how Japan, China, and the United States cooperate and compete to manage complex supply chains and infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia. Professor Vekasi received her PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2014. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Maine, she taught at New College of Florida, was a visiting research fellow at the University of Tokyo and a Fulbright Fellow at Tohoku University. She is a member of the Mansfield Foundation’s US-Japan Network for the Future, and a National Bureau of Asian Research 2019 National Asia Research Program Fellow.

David WOGAN leads the Energy Outlook at APERC, the energy think tank of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. In this capacity Dr. Wogan manages the in-house energy economics modeling group and routinely develops and participates in building energy economic capacities in APEC member countries. Prior to this Dr. Wogan led policy studies on electricity and climate change for KAPSARC, focusing on Middle East and Arabian Gulf countries. Dr. Wogan has extensive experience in energy and economic modeling, and specializes in energy economics, climate change policies, NDCs, capacity planning, and data collection/analysis.