Power import gets easier
India has issued a new cross-border power trading regulation, which will go a long way in helping Bangladesh import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan using Indian transmission lines to meet growing energy needs, officials said.
India's power ministry approved the “Guidelines for Import/Export (Cross Border) of Electricity-2018” on December 18.
In case of tripartite agreements, cross-border trade of electricity across India shall be allowed under the overall framework of bilateral agreements signed between the Indian government and the government of the respective neighbouring country or countries of the participating entities, it said.
“Now, we can do bilateral power trade with Nepal and Bhutan. It is a big opening on the Indian side,” Ahmad Kaikaus, power secretary of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star.
“The amendment ensures the market for Nepalese hydroelectricity in India and Bangladesh,” Barsha Man Pun, energy, water resources and irrigation minister of Nepal, told news magazine New Spotlight on Monday.
Semana Dahal, a lawyer advising the Nepalese government, told the Kathmandu Post, “This will foster power trade between Nepal and Bangladesh, giving opportunity to the former to export surplus electricity that it is on the track to generate within a few years.”
Dhaka has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kathmandu on electricity import. The first meeting of a corresponding joint working group and joint steering committee was held in Kathmandu on December 3-4.
“Under this circumstance, it is now matter of time to import hydropower from Nepal through India,” said Bangladesh's power and energy ministry in a statement.
A tripartite agreement between Dhaka, New Delhi and Kathmandu may be signed soon to help Bangladesh import electricity from Nepal, said an official of the ministry.
Kaikaus said regional connectivity for electricity trade requires going through India. Previous guidelines had stipulated that it had to be done by Indian entities.
“Now, the Indian side has relaxed it and now we will not have to go through India. We can do it ourselves,” said the secretary.
In another statement, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said the guidelines would be of great relevance and benefit to Bangladesh in availing power from various options.
“This will further enhance the reliability and quality of power supply in the country.”
“Obviously, these will be supplementary measures, since Bangladesh has also added a large amount of new power generation capacity in the last 10 years and is also working on a number of power generation plants to further enhance its own capacity.”
At present, Bangladesh imports 1,160 megawatts of electricity from India.
Infrastructure is being developed by way of a proposed high voltage direct current system in Cumilla to enhance further supply.
A dedicated power station with capacity of 1,600MW with a dedicated transmission system is being developed in India and will be ready in the next three and a half years, said BPDB.
BPDB said the guidelines allowed any company in Bangladesh to enter into deals with Indian companies as well as with companies in the neighbouring countries to facilitate power trade.
It said the new guidelines created the opportunity for electricity purchase through power exchange, which was not available now.
“Thanks to the new guidelines, Bangladesh would be able to participate in the spot power exchange in India by setting up a trading house there,” said Kaikaus.
Bangladesh has a plan to import 9,000MW of electricity from Nepal to mitigate the increasing demand of electricity by 2040, reported news agency BSS in August.
An MoU with Bhutan is now at the final stage, said the power secretary.