Countries in the BBIN region are typically characterised by moderate economic growth, coupled with problems of unemployment and poverty, dependence on imports and predominance of fossil fuel in the energy consumption basket. However, the BBIN countries are going through an economic transformation from low growth to high growth. While studies forecast a sustained economic growth in the BBIN countries, it is expected that there will be a consequent increase in the demand for electricity which in turn will create pressure on the demand for coal and other fossil based fuel.
With that backdrop, Regional co-operation in energy is emerging as a viable, long-term solution for ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy. Energy reserves across countries in the BBIN region vary significantly which offers opportunities for regional cooperation in the energy sector. For example, if the hydropower capacity in Bhutan and Nepal be developed effectively, then the same can be exported to the other countries in the BBIN sub-region. With a total of 1,425.9 million population in India and Bangladesh taken together, provides an important market for the electricity imported from Nepal and Bhutan.
Higher energy cooperation in the BBIN region will create a win-win situation for the countries. Effective planning of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the region can take advantage of time diversity and peak diversity and ensure stable electricity supply across borders. Providing stable electricity supply to the consumers across borders will promote industrial and commercial activities which in turn will lead to significant economic gains. However, for such planning to work, a cross-border interconnected system needs to be in place, which in turn will require strengthening the existing generation, transmission and distribution network across countries in the region. This will require substantial investment opportunities where private sector can participate. Private companies like Tata Power, Reliance have started investing in the region to reap the economic benefits. An interconnected energy grid will not only ensure energy security, but also facilitate transformation to clean sources of energy, riding on the substantial and untapped hydro-potential of the region.
Keeping in view the urgent need to promote cross border electricity trade in the BBIN region, this session aim at identifying the key drivers for cross border energy cooperation, economic and revenue gains accruing to the countries in the region, the key policy bottlenecks that can hinder such regional integration and what needs to be done to address the issues. It will bring together experts, policy makers, private players, multilateral donor agencies and other relevant stakeholders from the BBIN region who will highlight the gains from the bilateral India-Bangladesh and India-Bhutan electricity trade, showcase best practices from international experience in developing regional power markets, and deliberate on a road map to enhanced regional energy integration through harmonization of transmission interconnections and policy, regulatory, pricing, and market issues. Participants will also discuss and recommend policies and programs to encourage investment in regional power projects fueled by clean, renewable sources to mitigate climate challenges in the BBIN region, which currently relies heavily on fossil fuels to generate power, while meeting the growing energy needs of these transforming economies.