Energy demand in the SASEC subregion is expected to increase over the next decade resulting from economic growth and rising per capita incomes and energy consumption. With energy resources in South Asia unevenly spread, regional energy cooperation could help countries develop their energy resources in an optimal manner to lower energy costs, improve regional energy security, and contribute to climate change mitigation. SASEC initiatives in the energy sector support improvement of energy trade infrastructure, developing a regional power market by harmonizing legal and regulatory frameworks, and developing low-carbon alternatives and conservation and energy efficiency measures.
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The Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Government of Bhutan launched the Sustainable Hydropower Development Policy (SHDP) 2021 on 21 April 2021. The SHDP 2021 is expected to guide the overall development of Bhutan's abundant hydropower resources in consonance with national economic development goals, other relevant policies and laws, and more importantly to benefit the nation and achieve the larger aspirations of its people for peace, prosperity, and happiness.
An official meeting between Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 24 March 2021 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, emphasized boosting trade, connectivity, and cooperation in energy between the two South Asian nations.
The Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Ltd. (KHEL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India’s power sector financers under the Ministry of Power for the 600-megawatt (MW) hydropower project in eastern Bhutan. KHEL is the first hydropower joint venture between Bhutan and India.
South Asia needs an integrated energy grid to reduce transmission cost and promote regional economic development, said Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of the Government of India. The subregion should bring together buyers and sellers and harmonize regulatory frameworks to harness the potential of the power trade, he added.
India's northeastern states are working to improve infrastructure and connectivity to help reduce the cost of transport and basic commodities. India's northeastern region is the country's gateway to East and Southeast Asia, and India is promoting transport and energy connectivity with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, explains Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of the Government of India.
The Governments of Bhutan and India signed an agreement for the first joint venture hydropower project between the two countries. This agreement covers the construction of the 600-megawatt Kholongchhu hydropower project in Bhutan.
Bangladesh is in talks with Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and Nepal to import electricity to meet Bangladesh’s growing energy demand. This was according to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was speaking via videoconferencing at the inauguration of four power plants and eight substations in the country.
Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi have signed a power purchase agreement between PTC India Limited and Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation Limited for the sale and purchase of electricity from the 720 megawatt Mangdechhu hydropower project. The two prime minister jointly inaugurated the hydropower plant during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bhutan.
The 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Bhutan and India is an occasion to reflect on further advancing ties between the two countries, said Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, India. India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner and the two countries cooperate in the fields of transport and hydroelectric power.
Rapid economic growth and increasing populations pose challenges to the South Asian region’s energy security. Increasing energy cooperation among South Asian countries will help ensure access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for the entire region.
The Government of Bhutan is moving forward with Detailed Project Reports for pipeline hydropower projects in the country, including hydropower joint ventures with the Government of India. Bhutan aims to generate another 5,178 megawatts by 2025 from these pipeline projects, including the 1,125 MW Dorjilung project, 2,560 MW Sunkosh project, and 2,640 MW Kuri Gongri project.
Experts at the launching of UNCTAD’s The Least Developed Countries Report 2017 urged the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen the country’s electrical system and address electricity governance and finance to ensure affordable power supply to homes and businesses. Despite significant improvements over the past decade, challenges remain, according to the Report.
Nepal has decided to join the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grid interconnection, a move meant to help facilitate trade in electricity and take full advantage of available energy sources. Nepal is expected to sign an MOU to join the grid interconnection at the Third BIMSTEC Energy Ministers' Meeting.
An Asian Development Bank report suggests that a shift in India’s electricity policy could help address the acute electricity shortages faced by SAARC countries, which affects socioeconomic development as well as business operations. Policy amendments could help facilitate cross-border power trade among SAARC countries and give communities better access to electricity.
Mr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, India, met with Bhutan top leaders to discuss trade and economic ties, energy cooperation, and the implementation of India-assisted projects in Bhutan.
The 13th Joint Steering Committee Meeting between Bangladesh and India, held on 27-28 September 2017 in New Delhi, India, reviewed Bangladesh-India power sector cooperation, and explored new areas and opportunities, including the possible 840 megawatt (MW) additional electricity import from India to Bangladesh, and planned Bangladesh hydropower imports from Nepal and Bhutan.
Mr. Prabir De, Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, discusses how the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregional grouping’s focus to bridge connectivity gaps is crucial to reducing poverty in the region. He highlights the pressing need to begin implementing comprehensive trade facilitation and connectivity measures in the BBIN subregion, and remarks how success of the BBIN initiative is important to move broader regional integration initiative
The International Trade Centre's Trade Map reports an increase in intraregional trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) subregion in 2016, from $21.65 billion in 2015 to $23.52 billion. The ratio of BBIN intraregional trade to world trade went up from 2.98% in 2015 to 3.34% in 2016.
The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, is preparing a study on energy trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal subregion, examining how market forces, networks, and stakeholders interact. In this commentary, Mr. Aditya Valiathan Pillai, program officer of the Asia Foundation in India, discusses the creation of an energy market in South Asia and the growing importance of regional electricity trade in helping mitigate carbon emissions.
India's Ministry of Power is preparing a set of guidelines for cross-border trade of electricity, with draft regulations from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. This will regulate cross-border energy trade between India and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal, by creating a uniform framework.
Finance ministers and senior officials of member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka met on 5 May at Yokohama, Japan, at the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 50th Annual General Meeting.
India's Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the ratification of the MOU for the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. The MOU is expected to be signed at the next BIMSTEC Energy Minsters' Meeting and provides a broad framework for energy trade among BIMSTEC member countries.
Bangladesh has the potential to become a transport hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myamar, according to Mr. AMA Muhith, Finance Minister, Bangladesh. Turning Bangladesh into a regional and transshipment hub would enhance economic cooperation and result in collective economic growth for the countries, Mr. Muhith said at the SASEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is ready to assist Bangladesh in its efforts to improve transport and energy connectivity. Mr. Wencai Zhang, Vice President, ADB, affirmed that ADB will continue to support Bangladesh in its goal of becoming a developed country by 2041, as well as in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and minimizing climate change impact.
Hydropower cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal could be a viable option for addressing growing power needs in the region, said Mr. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, Brac University, Bangladesh. Nepal’s hydropower potential stands at 83,000 megawatts (MW), while Bhutan’s is at 40,000 MW and northeast India’s at 60,000 MW.
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) comprise around 880 million people yet account for less than 2% of the world gross domestic product. South Asian countries can accelerate economic development and graduate from the LDC category by working with each other. The economic future of their people could change radically through collaboration between the countries and lift millions of people out of poverty.
The SASEC project portfolio has surpassed the $9 billion mark with the December 2016 approval of Nepal’s SASEC Roads Improvement Project, worth $256.5 million. There are now 44 SASEC investment projects worth a cumulative $9.13 billion. During 2016, seven projects have been approved for a total of $2.37 billion.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali highlighted the potential joint development of hydropower projects between Bangladesh and Bhutan during discussions with Bhutan Ambassador to Bangladesh Sonam Tobden Rabgye.
South Asian countries should engage more in regional energy trade and joint management of resources. By doing so, they could save over $9 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8%. And since energy drives development, energy cooperation and trade is expected to translate to improved standards of living and poverty reduction.
Finance Ministers from the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states are pushing for the formation of a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) to ensure larger inflow of investments, higher trade volumes, and energy generation. The ministers highlighted the need to fast-track the formation of the SAEU to help boost the inflow of investments and trade volumes.
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) investment projects increased to a cumulative $7.66 billion in the areas of transport, energy, trade facilitation, and ICT with the recent approval of India’s Bihar New Ganga Bridge Project. To date, 40 SASEC-supported projects are helping member countries strengthen regional connectivity infrastructure, promote economic growth, and foster regional cooperation. In addition, there are now 71 technical assistance projects worth $66.14 mi
Mr. Hun Kim, Director General, South Asia Department, ADB, describes how partnership of 6 South Asian countries through the ADB-supported South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program is helping propel economic growth in South Asia, amidst an uncertain regional and global economic climate, by working to increase trade volumes to reduce the number of impoverished people in the region.
The interactive SASEC Corridor Map on the SASEC Program website and SASEC Mobile App is your gateway to SASEC projects. View projects by sector—energy, transport, trade facilitation, and ICT—or by corridor using the interactive map, to learn how the SASEC program is helping promote regional prosperity in South Asia. The map also includes project information and links to SASEC project pages.
Greatly increased energy consumption is powering economic transformation in Asia and the Pacific, but also contributing to higher greenhouse gas emissions. The devastating effects of climate change are already being felt in the region. In this speech delivered at the Pacific Energy Summit on 24 June 2016 in Singapore, Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank, looks at the challenges faced by Asia’s growing economies a
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Bhutan Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji discussed hydropower in a meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan: Bangladesh plans to invest in the 1,125 megawatt Dorjilung hydropower project. Trilateral cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India would enable Bangladesh's investment in Bhutan's hydropower sector.
The contract for civil and hydro-mechanical works of the Nikachhu Hydro Energy Project has been awarded to the Hindustan Construction Company Limited, in an international bidding held by Tangsibji Hydro Energy Limited. Works under the commissioned contract, worth around $69 million, are scheduled to start as early as July 2016. The 118 megawatt Nikachhu hydropower plant aims to become another model hydropower development in Bhutan.
The Jigme Wangchuck Power Training Institute in Gelephu, Bhutan is preparing to meet the human resource requirements of the country’s hydropower sector in the next four years. According to estimates by the Druk Green Power Corporation and Bhutan Power Corporation, the country’s hydropower sector will need at least 6,500 people to achieve its vision of generating 10,000 megawatts by 2020.
Mr. Pradeep Kumar Pujari, Secretary, Ministry of Power, India, ensured continuous demand for hydropower in the Indian grid, during his visit to Bhutan to review ongoing joint hydropower ventures. The Government of India plans to triple its power generation capacity to 800 gigawatts by 2030, using renewable energy sources.
The third meeting of the Joint Working Group on Subregional Cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on Connectivity and Transit and Water Resources Management and Power/Hydropower deliberated new initiatives for deepening cooperation. Discussion centered around progress made under the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement and the proposed BBIN Rail Agreement.
Bhutan’s Tangsibji Hydro Energy Limited (ThyE) and the State Bank of India (SBI) and EXIM signed a financial agreement costing around $53.5 million for the 118 megawatt Nikachhu hydropower plant. Power generated through the project will boost renewable energy generation in Bhutan, and further expand cross-border power trading in the region.
Bhutan Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina discussed the possibility of exporting hydropower from Bhutan to Bangladesh. According to Minister Wangchuk, Bhutan is interested to supply hydropower to Bangladesh at the lowest possible cost to help meet the country's growing demand for electricity.
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay promotedpartnerships as a way to help landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) become land-linked to global opportunities, saying it is possible to ensure a country is not landlocked economically with its neighbors' full trust and confidence. The Prime Minister was attending a high-level forum for landlocked developing countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The Power Grid Corporation of India began power transmission along its first "Power Transmission Express Highway". With a 6,000-megawatt capacity, this power corridor connects the northern states with the North Eastern Region, and will help both manage the supply of large-scale hydropower and connect power transactions done with Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
The certificate of incorporation for the 660 megawatt Kholongchu Hydropower Project (KHP) was formally handed over to Bhutan's Druk Green Power Corporation and India's Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam. Officials of KHP expect construction of about 40 kilometers of road leading to the project site to soon commence. KHP is the first joint venture between Bhutan and India.
A loan and grant financing agreement was signed by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Asian Development Bank on 4 May 2015 to develop the 118 megawatt Nikachhu hydropower plant. This project will promote regional energy trade between Bhutan and India, and help Bhutan meet its growing demands for electricity.
The 126 megawatt (MW) Dagachhu hydropower plant is now fully commissioned, with the successful run of the second 63MW unit test on 15 March 2015. As a joint venture between Druk Green Power Corporation of Bhutan and the Tata Power Company Limited of India, it has a 25-year power purchase agreement to export power from Bhutan to India. The Asian Development Bank, under the SASEC program, funded its construction through the Green Power Development Project.
Commissioning of the first unit of the 126 Megawatt (MW) Dagachhu Hydroelectric Project (DHP) officially began at 15:25 on 21 February 2015 with commercial generation of energy from Bhutan to India, coinciding with the 35th birthday of His Majesty the King of Bhutan. Generating capacity during peak season can rise to a maximum of 63 MW. The Green Power Development Project under the SASEC program funded its construction.
The World Bank report “Global Economic Prospects: Having Fiscal Space and Using It,” has set Bhutan's economic growth at 7.9% for the current fiscal year—1.1% higher than the Government's target of 6.8%. Propelling growth, according to the report, is completion of Dagachhu hydropower project. It also estimated growth in South Asia rebounded to an estimated 5.5% in 2014.
Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay told investors at the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit that Bhutan is open to clean, green and sustainable business proposals, including investments in renewable energy and hydropower. He also emphasized that Bhutan gives more value to gross national happiness, and extended an invitation among those interested in doing value-based business to invest in Bhutan.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved financing support to develop the Nikachhu hydropower plant—a run-of-the-river hydropower plant—in central Bhutan totaling $120.5 million in a package of loans and grants, through a public-private partnership. Power generated through the project will boost renewable energy generation in Bhutan, and further expand cross-border power trading in the region.
The Royal Government of Bhutan's target to bring “Electricity for All” is picking up pace. The rural electrification project, which began in 2013 with the initial goal of bringing electricity to 40,257 households, had already connected 40,300 households to the national power grid by August 2014. In response to popular demand, the Government has now set a deadline for every home in Bhutan to receive electricity supply by end 2014.
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay visited the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 5 September 2014 to thank the organization for contributing to Bhutan’s development throughout its 30-year partnership. He spoke to the Board of Directors, ADB staff, and the Bhutanese community as part of ADB’s Eminent Speaker Forum, “Bhutan’s Economic Vision: Prosperity for All” and launched the book, “20th by 2020: Bhutan Drive for Improved Governance”.
Bhutan Prime Minister Mr. Tshering Tobgay and Ms. Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President (VP) for Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations, discussed new prospects for mutually inclusive growth, including renewable energy, at a meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan on 21 August 2014. VP Venkatachalam assured Prime Minister Tobgay of ADB's continued support to Bhutan.
Mr. Gautam Bambawale, recently appointed Ambassador of India to Bhutan, visited Chhukha Hydropower Plant-the first joint project between India and Bhutan-during his first two weeks in office. Power trade between Bhutan and India is one of the many areas of cooperation between the two countries.
ADB Board of Directors approved Bhutan’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2014-2018 to support the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2013-2018) that focuses on self-reliance and inclusive, green socioeconomic development. Bhutan seeks a more inclusive strategy to broaden its economic base. The new CPS reflects ADB's three strategic pillars of inclusive growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional cooperation and integration.
The SASEC energy working group agreed to conduct feasibility studies for three new priority large-scale cross-border transmission projects worth over $3 billion at a meeting on 9 November 2012 in Thimphu Bhutan.