‘Regional power grid to benefit Bimstec nations’

|| Published: 2020-02-25 15:53:41 || Updated: 2020-02-25 15:55:22

National and international experts said such a grid will facilitate access to electricity for the marginal communities of the Bimstec countries

The regional electricity grid will benefit the member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) both financially and to narrow energy access gap, experts said on Tuesday.

They were speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Bimste’s two-day conference in Dhaka.

The panel – which included national and international experts – said such a grid will facilitate access to electricity for the marginal communities of the Bimstec countries which are lagging behind compared to the global average.

The single grid among the nations will also ensure affordability and efficient transmission of electricity.

The conference titled “Enhancing Energy Cooperation in the Bimstec Region” was organised jointly by the Bimstec Secretariat and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Representatives of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the USAID participated in the conference.

Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, addressed the programme as the chief guest.

Highlighting the scope for importing electricity from Nepal and exporting it back to the country, he said, “During our peak demand in summer, we can import electricity from Nepal. On the other hand, we can export it back in winter when their demand goes up and ours drops.”

Tawfiq-e-Elahi said financing is the main challenge for establishing the regional electricity grid.

“Big investment is needed for transmission. The initiative will be stuck at discussions if we do not get the required investment,” he added.

Derrick S Brown, USAID’s mission director to Bangladesh, said the conference will accelerate the regional energy cooperation and improve the cross-border energy trade in the Bimstec region.

“We believe that strengthening energy cooperation among countries can result in increased investment, a robust electricity sector, better financing capability, and significantly improved power sector efficiency,” he added.

Pankaj Batra, project director of South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration, moderated the programme while Bimstec Secretary-General M Shahidul Islam delivered the welcome address.

Highlighting the 2018 contract among the Bimstec member countries, Shahidul said an expert committee was formed to implement the strategies and steps of the agreement.

“The committee will find ways to import and export electricity across Bimstec countries rather than doing it bilaterally. They will also work on outlining the gridline and the required laws and regulations,” he added.

In the first working session of the conference, speakers talked about the energy demand and supply scenario, and cross-border energy trade in the region.

They said every member state is either suffering from surplus electricity or lack of it.

A regional grid could solve the problem by connecting the countries, they added.

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