Officials of the energy ministries of Nepal and Bangladesh will explore the possibility of energy trade and Bangladeshi investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector during their first meeting scheduled for next week.
Meetings of the Joint Steering Committee, co-led by the energy secretaries of Nepal and Bangladesh, and the Joint Working Group, co-led by the joint secretaries, will be held in Kathmandu from December 3-4.
According to the Energy Ministry, the major items on the agenda are exporting electricity to Bangladesh using Indian power lines, and attracting Bangladeshi investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector.
Nepal is expected to produce surplus electricity in a few years, and ministry officials and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) are scouting for markets for the extra energy in Bangladesh.
“We will try to figure out ways to export surplus electricity from Nepal using Indian transmission lines,” said Gokarna Panta, under-secretary at the ministry. The NEA plans to export electricity generated by several hydropower projects in the eastern region to Bangladesh using India’s transmission infrastructure.
The state-owned power utility is expected to sign separate memorandums of understanding with Indian and Bangladeshi authorities to make this happen.
Energy-hungry Bangladesh promises to be a lucrative market for hydroelectricity produced in Nepal.
It plans to import electricity from neighbouring countries to sustain the high economic growth rate that it has been achieving for the last few years.
The seasonal complementarities of demand and supply of electricity that exist in Nepal and Bangladesh will make electricity export highly viable, according to the NEA.
Bangladesh requires massive amounts of electricity in the summer when power generation reaches its peak in Nepal.
Demand plunges in the winter coinciding with a sharp drop in production in Nepal when the water discharge is low in the snow-fed rivers where a majority of the power plants are located. This pattern makes the two countries perfect partners for power trade, officials said.
The Nepal-Bangladesh meeting will also discuss the possibility of developing two hydropower projects with a total installed capacity of 1,600 MW with Bangladeshi investment. “Bangladesh was interested in financing the 1,110 MW Sunkoshi II and 536 MW Sunkoshi III located on the Sunkoshi River in central Nepal,” said Pant.
Nepali officials participating in the meeting will also take stock of the progress made by Bangladesh in its plan to import electricity generated by the 900 MW Upper Karnali Hydropower Project being developed with Indian funding.
“We are open to any proposal our Bangladeshi counterparts may present at the meeting,” said Panta.
BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu Post