In an enlightening discussion today at the Energy Conclave 2017, Piyush Goyal (MoS Power, Coal & RE) and Dharmendra Pradhan (MoS Petroleum & Natural Gas) talked about power being a significant part of India’s diplomatic efforts.
“Bhutan and Nepal have tremendous potential for hydro power, but they do not have enough consumption or load”, said Mr. Pradhan. Thus these countries are unable to economically develop hydel power plants just to cater to their own consumption as they will be very small in capacity. He mentioned that there are discussions India would use it’s resources and technological prowess to build power plants in these countries. Part of the power from such generators would then cater to demand in India resulting in bilateral benefits.
Mr. Pradhan also talked about the proposed project of building an LNG fired power plant and refinery in Sri Lanka and how plans were underway for laying an under-sea pipe line between the two countries. Excerpts from a recently signed MoU between India and Sri Lanka are as below:
- To set up a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fired 500 Megawatts capacity LNG Power Plant as well as LNG Terminal/Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Kerawalapitiya.
- India to assist Sri Lanka in the enhanced usage of Natural Gas including the setting up of piped gas distribution system in Colombo and in suburban areas in Sri Lanka; conversion of fuel-based power plants to LNG power plants, jointly with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
- To set up a 50 MW (extendable to 100 MW) Solar Power Plant in Sampur.
These economic ties based on power projects will ensure strong co-operation between India and Sri Lanka and is also seen as a way to counteract China’s influence in South East Asia- as China has recently become the largest investor in the island country’s economy.
Another neighbour, Bangladesh is already importing 660 MW of power from India. There are further talks for India to export natural gas to Bangladesh. Similar discussions are underway with Myanmar.
Thus it is clear that India is using it ability to invest and expertise in energy to forge new links and relationships with it’s neighbors. This will undoubtedly strengthen the country’s position in Asia and also propel the position of domestic companies such as NTPC and ONGC as multi-nationals.
I am reminded of a quote by a retired army officer that I had heard when I had just entered the solar industry.
While emphasizing the importance of solar power in an increasingly power hungry world, he said,
“In the future wars would be fought over energy.”
I’m happy to observe that India is setting a shining precedent of how, peace can be bred through energy instead.