KATHMANDU, Feb 13: Bangladesh has shown a keen interest to invest in Nepal's hydropower sector.
According to Mashfee Binte Shams, the ambassador of Bangladesh to Nepal, Bangladesh is ready to invest US$ 1 billion in Nepal. "Bangladesh is open to pursue every possible collaboration in the power sector, be it investment or power trade between the two countries," she said at an interaction organized by Energy Development Council (EDC), in Kathmandu, on Friday.
As the economy of Bangladesh is growing at the rate of over 7 percent, it is a power hungry country, the ambassador said, adding that the current installed capacity of Bangladesh is 15,000 MW but 'still it is not enough'.
Bangladesh has projected its electricity demand to reach 20,000 MW in 2021 and 34,000 MW in 2030, according to the envoy. The Bangladesh government has already proposed to sign an umbrella Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nepal. "Bangladesh is waiting for the positive response from the Nepal government," she added.
Shams also informed that private companies of Bangladesh are also interested in investing in Nepal's hydropower sector. "Bangladesh, with its huge electricity deficit, is actively exploring to generate electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources," she said, adding that Bangladesh has been importing electricity from India as it has friendly relationship with New Delhi.
If Nepal has to export electricity to Bangladesh, the transmission line has to go through India, as a small section of India lies in between Nepal and Bangladesh. "India will have no problem, if Bangladesh imports electricity from Nepal," she added.
Recently, India has also said that it will have no problem, if Bangladesh imports electricity through its territory. Though, there has been cross border electricity trade -- between Nepal-India, Bhutan-India and India-Bangladesh -- the beginning of power trade with Bangladesh will materialize power trade in the South Asia region as a whole as the regional forum has been continuously discussing on regional power trade.
Despite relatively large energy resource endowed, comprising of hydropower potential of 294,330 MW; coal reserves of 108,961 million tons and 95 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas and a large renewable energy resource base; South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region is facing acute power shortages, leading to frequent and long power outages.
The spread of these resources as well as the demand pattern are highly skewed across the region, according to a study of the Japan-ADB and SAARC. "While the resource base in some countries far exceeds their projected demand, other countries do not enjoy this luxury," it reads, adding that this scenario provides a perfect environment for the development of these resources to meet the in-country demand as well as for cross border electricity trade within and with neighboring regions.
Many hydropower projects, including mega projects like Upper Karnali, Arun III and West Seti, are being developed by India and China. If things go as planned, Bangladesh will be the second South Asian country to invest in Nepal's hydropower sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Sujit Acharya, the chairperson of EDC, welcomed the interest of Bangladesh in Nepal's energy sector. He said that the council will put its effort in bridging the gaps among the authorities concerned.
Power investment summit in September
Chairperson of Energy Development Council (EDC) Sujit Acharya also announced that EDC was organizing Power Investment Summit in September.
Around 100 investment-ready projects will be showcased in the summit, Acharya said, adding that deals will be made on the sport as the summit will see high-level delegates' participation.
On the occasion, Ambassador Shams said that Bangladesh was willing to participate in the Summit. “Our Energy Minister would be delighted to come for the summit,” she added.