S Asian ‘virtual energy market’ talks soon

December 31, 2013

The South Asia Regional Initiative (SARI) for Energy, the regional platform of cooperation, is set to start talks to establish a “virtual market” for South Asian countries for trading energy, particularly electricity, among its members. USAID has granted USD 9 million for five years to complete the brainstorming talks, titled ‘South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration’, which will start in New Delhi on January 7 and 8. At the talks, Bangladesh will propose a corridor from India to tap the energy potential of Nepal and Bhutan.
A two-member team will join the meeting, lead by additional power secretary Taposh Roy and the director general of the power cell.
“A six-member joint technical team is working in India and Bangladesh to establish a common power grid in South Asia. It will explore the scope for exchanging power between India, Nepal and Bhutan,” Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Abul Kalam Azad said.
In order to ensure the country’s future energy security, he explained that the government is set to establish a common grid in this region. The government has initiated bilateral talks with the neighbouring countries. India has agreed, he added.
This step is just a beginning, which will usher in a new era in the energy trade among the SAARC countries, a dream project for 150 million people of the region. But to ensure that the idea materialises, the regulatory body should understand it and open up the market, experts said.
To serve the nation, the government is set to explore opportunities to tap cheap energy resources in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, as they have enormous potential to generate energy, according to the Power Division.
A USAID study said Arunachal Pradesh has rich hydroelectric potential of some 80,000 MW (80 GW). The Indian government is planning to establish an electricity corridor through Bangladesh. India will need multiple high-capacity transmission lines (each with capacity of around 6,000-7,000 MW) to tap the state’s hydel power.
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), reservoirs in Nepal have the potential to generate up to 83,000 MW of electricity. “The hydro power produced in the reservoirs can easily be transmitted to Bangladesh using the Indian power distribution network, which is already connected with Nepal. Nepal is located some 12 km off our border in the northern fringe,” a Power Division official said.
Another study by the Bhutan government shows that the kingdom’s hydro power potential is 30,000 MW. Of this, 23,760 MW are technically feasible. A reservoir will be constructed in the upstream of the Brahmaputra in Bhutan to produce hydro power, which can also be transmitted to Bangladesh over Indian territory.
With this goal of importing power, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh has set up a USD 107-million power substation at Bheramara in Kushtia and a power transmission line, worth USD 15 million, which will link India’s Baharampur to the substation.
“We have now moved one step forward in establishing a common grid line. The Indian government has told us to start talks with Nepal and Bhutan to fix a date for a trilateral meeting. But now India has suggested that we should start talks with Bhutan, not Nepal,” a senior official said.

-With The Independent input

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