Keeping up the momentum generated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in pushing regional ties by inviting the leaders of South Asian countries to his oath-taking ceremony, India Friday pushed for a South Asia grid to exchange surplus power.“Rivers can flow only in one direction but power can flow in our direction of choice. I dream of a seamless SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) power grid within the next few years," India's power minister Piyush Goyal said here."Hydroelectric power generated in north east India could be transported via Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, on to Afghanistan. Offshore wind projects could be set up in Sri Lanka’s coastal borders to power Pakistan or Nepal," the minister said."The possibilities are limitless," Goyal, who also oversees portfolios of coal, and new and renewable energy told the 5th Meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers here.The minister said the economic sustainability of the region hinges on energy security as 30 percent its region’s energy demand is met through imports. To resolve this, Goyal advocated a three-pronged strategy by leveraging:
- Harnessing conventional and renewable sources of energy
- Building inter-connected transmissions grids
- Forging efficacious power trading agreements.
The minister said the per capital household consumption of electricity in the region was a mere 128 units, versus the global average of 3,045 units. To push consumption and for rapid progress of the region, it is imperative to expand the power sector, he said.Giving details of intra-SAARC linkages established in the recent past, Goyal gave the examples of the 1,450-MW exchange between India and Bhutan, 500-MW between India and Bangladesh and 150-MW between India and Nepal.
Energy ministers and senior officials from the SAARC member countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Malpes, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka besides hosts India -- are taking part in the two-day meet.Senior officials meeting on the first day Thursday agreed on a framework agreement for energy cooperation which has been pending since 2010, the power ministry said in a statement here.SAARC was created in 1985 with its secretariat in Kathmandu. Regional cooperation in the energy sector began in January 2000 with the setting up of a SAARC Technical Committee on Energy.Under SAARC energy cooperation, some expert groups have also been created: oil and gas with Bangladesh as the lead country, electricity, as also technology and sharing under India, and renewable energy under Pakistan.