India working on build greater energy links in the neighbourhood
New Delhi: India is working on setting up an energy-efficient power transmission (HDVC) line to Nepal and Bhutan as part of its energy security plans, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said on Thursday.
India’s long-term plans include a grid linking South-east Asian nations with those of South Asia, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, the minister said while outlining ambitious schemes to build greater energy links in India’s neighbourhood.
Khurshid was speaking at a two-day World Energy Policy Summit that began in New Delhi on Thursday.
Among the projects on the anvil to address India’s energy deficit is the US-backed $9 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, Khurshid said. It is expected to be completed by 2017-18.
“We are also, in a very, very nascent way, beginning to link our electricity grid to Bangladesh through the HVDC (high voltage direct current) power transmission line that we have inaugurated recently,” he said referring to 500 megawatt transmission line linking India’s eastern electrical grid to the western grid of Bangladesh that was inaugurated in October.
The Asian Development Bank, which helped finance the $199 million interconnection facilities in Bangladesh with a $112 million loan, described it as “a key step forward in regional power sharing and cooperation.”
India is also working “on the India-Nepal HVDC link which will perhaps begin with providing power to Nepal in order, ultimately, to be able to take power (import) from Nepal. Again, same sort of thing is what we hope we will be able to do with Bhutan. Nepal and Bhutan will become a major source of supply of power to India,” Khurshid said.
“Of course, we could have a grid that goes into Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). We have road connectivity with Asean, but we would also have hopefully power connectivity with Asean, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and into Pakistan and perhaps into Afghanistan as well,” Khurshid said. Asean is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the 2011 Census, only 67.2% Indian households had access to electricity. Highlighting the unmet energy needs of a large segment of the population, the International Energy Agency’s October World Energy Outlook said India is set to overtake China in the 2020s as the principal source of growth in global energy demand.
India’s Power Grid Corp., in its 2012-13 annual report, said it was preparing a feasibility study for connecting South Asia through a grid—a plan first mooted in the late 1990s. South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan have been discussing the sale of power. And as part of its reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, India has constructed a 220kV transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul and a 220/110/20 kV sub-station at Chimtala to bring additional power from the northern grid to Kabul.
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation which also includes Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Towards the east, India has been trying to build closer links including connectivity with the high-growth Asean countries as a means to develop its insurgency-riven northeastern region. India and the Asean have set a bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015.