India is looking at increasing power availability by 800,000 GW by 2030 to sustain its impressive growth rates of eight per cent to nine per cent.
Releasing a report on 'South Asia Energy Cooperation and Business Opportunities in the Power Sector' published by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at a programme yesterday, Sudhir Vyas — Secretary (Economic Relations) at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs — said India’s demand for energy will drive the formation of SAARC energy grid.
"Countries were doing a lot at the bilateral level but they needed to scale up the process to the regional level," he added.
Chief Mentor at Tata Power Company Amulya Charan opined that all neighboring countries including Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka either had the demand or the supply resources which were unfulfilled and therefore setting up a SAARC grid had huge potential.
“The multiple nation grid is a well established phenomenon and needs to be replicated in South Asia," he said, adding that it will lead to a win-win situation for all the countries in the region.
Chairman at Integrated Research and Action for Development Dr Kirit Parikh said a competitive electricity sector with independent regulators was imperative to meet the goals of power to all. "The power purchase agreements need to be symmetric with clauses like formula-based tariff setting built into these agreements so that developers are assured of getting the right price," added Parikh.
Similarly, CII National Committee member Dr Sudhir Kapur said that an almost four fold increase in energy demand was expected given the growth potential in the entire south Asian region. "Currently, thermal plants account for the bulk of the power supply in the region at 65 per cent followed by hydro power at 20 per cent," he said, adding that Nepal has not been able to exploit even 1,000 MW of its 82,000 MW of hydropower potential of which 43,000 MW power is economically viable and exploitable.
He highlighted on the need to capitalise on the over 200 GW of hydropower potential in countries including India, Bhutan and Nepal to meet the challenge of energy security and climate change.
Another CII National Committee member Jayant Deo said it was important to develop mechanisms for deviation settlement, payment security and clearing and settlement to facilitate the development of cross border power exchanges. "It will pave the way for a single South Asia electricity market,” he added.