Wednesday, March 10, 2021

India to promote sub-regional energy hub

 India is planning to promote a sub-regional energy hub.

"The sub regional energy hub comprising of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and India will help meet its energy needs," according to foreign secretary of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla, delivering his remarks during the inauguration of the South Asia Group on Energy at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries in New Delhi today.

India is taking the lead to promote a regional approach to meet its energy needs, the Indian foreign secretary said, adding that it is natural for India to be the epicentre for any energy initiative in the region as it is the largest producer and consumer of energy in the region. "We have to make energy affordable, accessible and clean," he said, adding that India is promoting easier movement of hydrocarbons across the region.

Shringla, on the occasion, also mentioned that the the first South Asian cross-border petroleum products pipeline from Motihari in India to Amlekhgunj in Nepal was remotely inaugurated by Indian and Nepali prime ministers in September 2019. "The pipeline has helped save Indian Rs 1 billion for Nepal Oil Corporation."

India is now expanding the project to Chitwan, and also construct a new pipeline connecting Silguri and Jhapa in Nepal," he added.

Likewise, India supplied some 700 MW of power to Nepal in 2019 through more than 25 transmission interconnections, Shringla informed, hoping that Nepal may also start exporting power in the near future. "The first high capacity cross-border power transmission line, from Dhalkebar in Nepal to Muzaffarpur in India has been completed with Government of India-assistance and was upgraded to 400 KV capacity in November 2020."

"More cross-border high-capacity connections are envisaged," he added.

In the power generation sector, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) is developing the 900 MW Arun-III hydroelectric project in northeast Nepal, the Indian foreign secretary said, recalling the Lower Arun project of Nepal has recently been awarded to SJVNL. "A consortium led by GMR is developing the 900 MW Upper Karnali hydroelectric project in western Nepal." 

Upper Karnali is an export-oriented project, where power is to be supplied to India and Bangladesh. "Private sector participation in the hydropower sector holds enormous promise," he said, mentioning that there is a wide variation in energy resource endowments and energy demand in the region. "While India and Bangladesh account for the major natural gas and coal resources, Bhutan and Nepal have large hydropower resources, and Sri Lanka has great potential for solar and wind power production."

All the South Asian countries, in fact, have vast renewable energy potential. "By harnessing complementarities in electricity demand, load curves and resource endowments, a mutually beneficial model of cooperation in South Asia could be developed," he said.

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