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India become net exporter of power for the first time

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As per data revealed by Central Electricity Authority of India (CEAI), India has become a ‘Net Exporter’ of electricity for the first time in history.This remarkable feat was accomplished by exporting 5,798 Million Units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar against import of around 5,585 Million units from Bhutan for the period from April 2016-February 2017.

  • Thus the exports outweighed the imports by 213 million units. Major contributing factor in this surplus was the export to Bangladesh and Nepal which have increased 2.8 times and 2.5 times respectively in last three years.

India’s Power Trade Diplomacy:

  • India has been involved in cross border electricity trade since mid-80s.
  • Since then, Bhutan has been a consistent importer of electricity to India (generated through its Hydel Power Projects)
  • Nepal has been receiving electricity from India since mid-eighties through various cross border linkages set up in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Commissioning of Muzaffarpur (India) – Dhalkhebar (Nepal) line in 2016 resulted in further increase of electricity export to Nepal.
  • In case of electricity export to Bangladesh, major boost came in September 2016 on account of first cross border Interconnection between Baharampur in India and Bheramara in Bangladesh.
  • The electricity trade also has a diplomatic angle which increases India’s goodwill among its neighbours.

Pinch of Salt – The Other Side of Power Trade:

Experts believe that story of electricity trade surplus indicates slow growth in demand in India. But Government officials are dismissing it by claiming that power demand has registered 6% growth. Moreover, if effect of LEB bulb distribution programme aimed at energy efficiency is factored in, the growth would be 9%

The Road Ahead for Power Trade:

India and Bangladesh are jointly working on a plan to double the capacity of existing Baharmapur-Bheramara transmission line and are also examining the possibility of raising the capacity of Tripura-Comilla line.

  • Proposal to lay a third line from Assam’s Bongaigaon to an appropriate interconnect point in Bihar through Bangladesh is also under consideration.
  • In near future export of power to Nepal is projected to rise through Katiya (Bihar)– Kusaha (Nepal) line and Raxaul (Bihar)– Parwanipur (Nepal) line.

Quick Facts about Central Electricity Authority of India (CEAI):

It is a statutory body entrusted with the advisory role towards Government of India on matters pertaining to Cross Border Trade of Electricity.

  • Formation Year: 1951
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Current Chairperson of CEAI: Mr. R K Verma