Ministry for linking S Asian power grids to meet demand-supply gap

Written by Sanjay Jog | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 6 2009, 01:35am hrs
The power ministry, which is striving to chase the capacity addition target of 78,700 mw in the 11th Plan to bridge the widening gap between the demand and supply, has proposed to explore opportunities to interconnect South Asian power grids on the lines of the Nordic Power Exchange (Nord Pool), Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE), Europe, Asean Grid and North American Grid.

The project envisages interconnection between India and Bhutan with possible investment of $850 million (3,000 mw), between India and Nepal 400 kv transmission line at $50 million, between India and Sri Lanka the 1,000 mw HVDC system at $415 million, with Bangladesh 1,000 mw HVDC back-to-back at $220 million. With Pakistan, India plans to tap HVDC back-to-back link. This will create a win-win situation for these countries whereby India will have access to green hydro power while the other South Asian countries can provide a good demand market to harness all resources.

The Central Transmission Utility, PowerGrid Corporation may be roped in to carry out necessary system study and prepare a detailed project report, the power ministry official told FE on the sidelines of a conference on Enabling Regulation for Investment in Infrastructure. The official said India and Bhutan grids are currently interconnected through 400 kv/220 kv/132 kv transmission links with generation capacity of more than 1,400 mw in Bhutan. Moreover, India and Nepal grids are also interconnected 132 kv/33 kv/11 kv links for about 50 mw exchange. Besides, a committee set up by the power ministry would soon visit Bangladesh to pursue interconnection plan.

The official argued that interconnection of South Asian countries was necessary, especially, when in all these countries against the huge potential of hydro power the achievement is quite low. In India, against the potential of 1,50,000 mw only 36,000 mw is exploited, Bhutan against 30,000 mw only 1,500 mw, in Nepal against 83,000 mw only 680 mw and in Pakistan against 27,000 mw only 6,500 mw. Geographically widely spread India grid can facilitate interconnections with these countries. So far the PowerGrid Corporation has developed inter regional transfer capacity of 20,800 mw which would be increased to 37,000 mw by 2012, the official said.

However, the official said such interconnections would be possible after addressing various regulatory concerns which include harmonising of grid code, transmission tariff, procurement/sale of power, identification of trading agency and transmission investment decision. The quantum of power exchange would have to be tied up with generation projects/trading agencies to establish transmission infrastructure.