Bangladesh bullish on energy ties with India

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on December 02, 2014 Published on December 02, 2014

Hopes to meet half its demand in 10 yrs from India, Nepal, Bhutan

With the Saarc Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) in place, Bangladesh is gearing up to meet half its projected 10,000 MW incremental demand in the next 10 years from India, Nepal and Bhutan.

According to Taufiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy advisor to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Seikh Hasina, Dhaka is bullish on enhancing the scope of energy cooperation with Delhi.

While India has granted in-principle approval to Bangladesh’s request to enhance (thermal) electricity sales from 500 MW to 1,100 MW (mostly through open market purchase), discussions are also on to collaborate in harnessing renewable energy sources.

‘Power in North East’

According to the arrangement for hydro-electricity development, harnessing hydro resources in the North-Eastern States (many of which share a border with Bangladesh) will be crucial to this initiative.

India currently taps a mere 2 per cent of the nearly 69,000 MW hydro-power potential in the North-East.

Dubbed as “Power in Northeast”, the joint initiative aims to develop hydro-electric projects (in India) to meet the energy needs of both nations.

“The discussions have been on between the Governments for some time. Now, it is possible to develop the projects,” said Chowdhury.

India has in place a collaborative agreement with Bhutan that has attracted huge investments from Delhi in developing a number of large hydro-electric projects and earning money on sale of excess power to India.

Chowdhury says creation of a common market should help India create a demand for solar power. Competition from cheap coal-based power is a major hurdle to the wider use of solar energy in India (and China). Considering that Bangladesh is run on costlier gas-based electricity, it has a greater appetite for solar energy.

The market potential, he argues, is particularly high due to vast time difference between solar power hubs of Rajasthan and Gujarat in Western India and Bangladesh on the Eastern border.

Though India has one time zone for the entire country; the sun sets in Rajasthan a clear two hours behind Bangladesh, opening up an opportunity for solar power companies in India to meet a part of the peak evening shortage in Dhaka.

Bangladesh joins TAPI

Meanwhile, the Saarc agreement has finalised Bangladesh’s entry into a consortium for the Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project, referred to as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project. “Bangladesh first expressed its interest to join the TAPI project nearly two years ago. The energy cooperation deal made Bangladesh’s entry a certainty,” Chowdhury said. He wants to rechristen the project TAPI-B.

Published on December 02, 2014
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