KATHMANDU, Dec 13:
Experts from the South Asian countries on Friday said recent bilateral energy trading agreements among energy deficit countries in the region have opened up new avenues for regional energy cooperation.
Bilateral energy trade is in place between India and Bangladesh, and Bhutan and India following installation of inter-country transmission line. Similarly, Nepal is soon being connected with India via synchronized transmission line. Also, inter-country power trade talk has gained momentum in the recent years.
Speaking at an international workshop on ´Energy Cooperation, Climate Change and Water Management: Initiatives for Regional Integration´, Helal A Raza, chairman of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Energy Centre, said the concept of regional energy cooperation is finding acceptance among the member countries and regional integration efforts in South Asia are now focused on energy.
The Islamabad Summit of SAARC held in 2004 had embraced SAARC Energy Ring, a vision to promote Energy Security in South Asia by promoting regional energy cooperation.
Presenting a paper titled ´SARRC Initiatives in Energy Cooperation´, Raza said regional energy cooperation has been acknowledged as a ´business opportunity´ by SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industries, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
“Almost all the members of SAARC have their own strengths in energy resources,” Sher Singh Bhat, spokesperson of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), said. “Energy cooperation among SAARC member countries can be instrumental in overcoming endemic energy shortage and making effective use of resources to boost the overall economy of the region.” He also said bilateral agreements between some physically connected countries show the prospects of energy cooperation the region.
Six member countries of SAARC are facing energy deficit. Only the Maldives and Sri Lanka are not facing deficit as they operate diesel plants to produce energy as per the demand.
Nepal and Bhutan are rich in hydropower, Bangladesh has natural gas in abundance, and India and Pakistan have coal resources yet to be tapped.
Experts say effective use of such resources not only reduces energy deficit, but also boosts regional economy.
Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, member of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nepal said, energy should be taken as an exportable commodity by member countries.
In their election manifestos, big political parties have proposed to harness hydropower and sell surplus energy in the west season to India and import energy from the southern neighbor during dry season.
Prdhan, who is an independent power developer, said they would lobby to include the agenda of ´regional energy cooperation´ in the upcoming SAARC Summit to be held in Nepal next year.
Source : Republica