‘Electricity collaboration’ diplomacy in BBIN countries

Jubeda Chowdhury
Cont from prev issue
Energy demand in the BBIN region varies from country to country. For example, December, January and February in Bhutan have high electricity demand. But this demand decreases from June to September. Electricity demand is high in Nepal from January to February. On the other hand, Bangladesh’s electricity demand is lowest at this time of the year. The peak demand in Bangladesh is from April to June. And between November and February the electricity demand drops significantly. Some regions of India have high electricity demand from January to March or October to December.
For example, India is considering Nepalese and Bangladesh proposals to allow Kathmandu to sell electricity to Dhaka via Indian territory and Indian infrastructure which would deepen sub-regional cooperation in a big way. Officials say a meeting between Nepali and Indian officials led by energy secretaries of the countries will finalize the matter. The meeting is scheduled to be held in the third week of February in New Delhi.
India offers the opportunity to interconnect the Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal electricity supply industries. The possibility of using Indian power infrastructure for electricity trade between Nepal and Bangladesh is another facet of India’s neighborhood engagement. These bonds of support, trade and economic opportunities should bind the countries, with India as a critical player. Acting in unison would be in the enlightened self-interest of each country in South Asia. This approach makes India a reliable partner. The power trade between Nepal and Bangladesh also reflects the active role of a silent organization BBIN. Nepal will gain from the sale, and Bangladesh will benefit from access to electricity.
Besides opening the opportunity for bilateral trade between Nepal and Bangladesh, a new opportunity for sub-regional energy trade among BBIN countries is also emerging, with India itself pushing for it. For this, transmission line connectivity alone will not be enough. There is a need for harmonized rules and regulations among the participating 963.- countries and there should be a multilateral agreement on details including the wheeling charge of electricity among the participating countries. It is hoped that Nepal and Bangladesh will widen colla- boration in the power sector and include partner nations to solve the energy interdependency in South Asia.
That is, these four countries can meet each other’s electricity needs at different times of the year. Nepal can generate up to 40 GW of hydropower if it wants. But they are using only 5 percent of their potential. Bhutan has a potential of 23 GW from hydropower but they are only able to use 10 percent of it. Bangladesh’s problem is about adding renewable energy to the grid. Bangladesh can expand its renewable energy path by investing in Nepal and Bhutan.