A two-day meeting of the joint steering committee (JSC) and joint working committee (JWC) on Bangladesh-Nepal power and energy sector cooperation is set to start in Bangladesh today with a target to address the transmission bottleneck in the regional electricity trade.
The JWC meeting is scheduled for May 15, while the JSC meeting is set for May 16 at the same venue at the Payra power plant in Patuakhali, official sources said.
Ahead of the meetings, Nepalese Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud, in a meeting on Saturday, urged Bangladeshi private and public sector companies to invest in the hydropower sector in the Himalayan nation, which holds about 60,000 MW of clean energy potential.
“There is huge potential in the Nepal hydropower sector. India is investing in our country, and we also welcome Bangladesh to invest in Nepal,” he said at an event titled ‘Realizing Energy Cooperation between Nepal and Bangladesh’ at the Embassy of Nepal in Dhaka.
“We want to export power to Bangladesh from Nepal, as there is an unlimited market,” he said.
Responding to a question from reporters on impediments in cross-border transmission facilities, he said Nepal hoped to resolve the issue as the Nepalese Prime Minister is expected to visit India soon.
“We’re discussing and negotiating with India to resolve the issue. India is now positive in this regard. We’re looking positively to address the issue during the coming tour of the Nepalese Prime Minister to India,” he said.
Official sources in Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said that Bangladesh has a plan to import 500 MW of electricity from Nepal, where Indian company GMR Upper Karnali Hydropower is building a 900 MW hydropower project.
But so far, no breakthrough has been made in resolving issues on transmission facilities due to India’s lack of clearance, said a top BPDB official.
If Bangladesh wants to import power from Nepal, it has to first sign a deal with India, not directly with Nepal. Then Nepal will sign a separate deal with India, and each deal will be bilateral.
In this case, Bangladesh has to import electricity from Nepal through an Indian company. Bangladesh is importing electricity from India through a similar arrangement where Indian company NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) is importing power for BPDB.
As there are no adequate transmission facilities in place, Bangladesh is now trying to start electricity import by 50 MW through the existing limited facilities. But still, such a plan is not getting clearance due to a lack of Indian approval.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Steering Committee on Power Sector Cooperation was held in Khulna on May 4.
Joint development of cross-border trade and relevant projects and projects on energy efficiency in Bangladesh were discussed, as a press release of the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources said at that time.
It also mentioned that the meeting also discussed the India-Bangladesh interconnection link for electricity import, the signing of a proposed agreement to import 500 megawatts of hydroelectricity from Nepal by Indian company GMR to Bangladesh through India, tripartite investment of Bangladesh, India, and Bhutan in hydroelectricity project in Bhutan and also the importing of electricity from the project to Bangladesh.