B’desh Seeks Solar Power From India

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New Delhi: In what will give India’s energy diplomacy a boost, power-starved Bangladesh wants to buy at least 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from large solar parks being set up in Gujarat and Rajasthan, said a senior official in the Sheikh Hasina-led government.

Fostering cross-border energy trade is an important part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s South Asia-focused neighbourhood-first policy, with India also pursuing long-term deals with Bangladesh companies for supplying domestic cooking gas and other petroleum products.

This comes in the backdrop of India’s record low solar power tariff of Rs2.44 per unit registered in May 2017. India, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, plans to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

Of this, 100GW is to come from solar. Also, as part of India’s strategy of playing a key role in creating a new energy security architecture for its neighbours, 660MW is currently being supplied to Bangladesh.

“We could take up to 2,000MW of solar power if they can provide,” Chowdhury said in an interview on the sidelines of the 16th International Energy Forum Ministerial (IEF—16) held in New Delhi last week.

“There has been a discussion on this topic. Lets see how this goes forward,” said a senior Indian government official requesting anonymity.

New Delhi sees its eastern neighbour as key to bringing to fruition its plans to quell insurgency in the North-East, usher in development in the region through trade and strengthen linkages with South-East Asia given Bangladesh’s strategic location.

“Sheikh Hasina’s government is very committed to regional cooperation,” Chowdhury added.

India and Bangladesh last year signed two lines of credit worth $5 billion during Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India. During the visit Modi highlighted energy security as an important dimension of India-Bangladesh ties and promised to add another 500MW under an existing transmission link. However, there is no consensus yet on the vexed issue of sharing of the waters of the river Teesta between the two countries.

“Some investor may set up a solar power plant, let’s say in Rajasthan specifically for exporting power to Bangladesh. It’s our government’s idea,” said Chowdhury.
Experts welcomed the move.

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