Bid to create South Asia power grid

Read more below

By R. SURYAMURTHY in Delhi
  • Published 22.09.08
  •  

New Delhi, Sept. 21: India is taking the initiative in setting up a power grid across South Asia, with projects in Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka which when completed, will see electricity traded across countries in the region.

“We would like to use power as a tool for greater regional engagement. Indian firms will gain from the initiatives,” minister of state for power and commerce Jairam Ramesh told The Telegraph.

State-owned NHPC has inked a pact with the Myanmar government for developing two hydroelectric projects on the Chindwin river basin.

Analysts say India’s neighbours have huge potential in hydroelectricity, and co-operation among nations to tap the energy resource can be a win-win situation for all.

They feel the Indian government needs to take an active role in developing strategic relationships among countries for sharing energy resources.

Nepal has a hydroelectric potential of 83,000 mega watts (MW), of which 45,000MW has been estimated to be economically viable. Nepal’s current installed capacity is 591MW.

Myanmar’s hydroelectric potential is 39,720MW, with an installed capacity of around 747MW. India would be looking to utilise the untapped resources in these regions to overcome its energy deficit.

According to India’s Central Electricity Authority, the country will require additional 161 giga watt generation capacity during the 11th and 12th plan periods to grow at 8 per cent annually. (One thousand mega watts make up a giga watt.)

In Myanmar, NHPC will play the lead role in developing the 1,200MW Tamanthi project and the 600MW Shwzaye project.

The Chindwin river basin has a hydropower potential of around 2,500MW. “The basin is also of strategic importance because of its proximity to several northeastern states,” Ramesh said.

In Nepal, two Indian firms — GMR and state-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam — are setting up hydroelectric units, while power trader PTC India Ltd has signed pacts to wheel electricity from two other projects.

A transmission link with Bhutan is in place, and there are plans to develop two more projects. Efforts are also on to ramp up the existing grid to enable up to 5,000MW of electricity export to India by 2020.

Three new projects — the 1,080MW Punatsangchhu-I, the 1,000MW Punatsangchhu-II and the 600MW Mengdechu — have been identified for joint development.

In Sri Lanka, work is progressing on a $450-million undersea power transmission link. NTPC is working on a 500MW coal fired plant in the island nation.