Nepal and Bangladesh will discuss energy trade and investment in two hydropower projects.
Kathmandu: The South Asian country has shown eagerness to import Nepal’s electricity and proposed to supply to Nepal during the dry season.
Bilateral power trade and soliciting Bangladeshi investment in Nepal’s two hydropower projects would be the agenda for discussions during the high-level bilateral meeting expected to take place between the two countries in July.
Nepal will host the fourth meeting of the joint working group and joint steering committee between the two countries in Kathmandu.
A senior official at the Energy Ministry said that although Nepal proposed to hold the meeting in late June, the Bangladeshi side has requested for pushing the meeting to late July.
“Electricity export and import will be high on the agenda,” said Madhu Prasad Bhetuwal, joint secretary and spokesperson for the Energy Ministry. “India also appears willing to assist in promoting regional energy connections.”
As the southern neighbor’s territory lies between Nepal and Bangladesh, electricity trade between Nepal and Bangladesh cannot happen without India’s support.
The two countries decided to establish a dedicated transmission line by bringing India on board during the third bilateral meeting of the joint working group and joint steering committee held in September last year.
There, however, has not been any trilateral meeting regarding the issue, according to Bhetuwal.
According to the Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation issued in early April during Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s visit to Delhi, Nepal and India agreed to expand power sector cooperation by bringing other partner countries into the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal Initiative (BBIN) framework, subject to mutually agreed terms and conditions.
“But it is still a bilateral document,” said Bhetuwal. “India has been positive on the issues at multilateral forums such as BBIN and BIMSTEC too.”
Member countries agreed the formation of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Coordination Committee during the third BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting in Kathmandu in April to carry out the terms of the BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Agreement.
Memorandum of Understanding for establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection and its terms of reference.
Bangladesh has previously agreed to import 500 megawatts of electricity from the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project, which has a capacity of 900 megawatts. The construction license for this project has been granted to GMR, an Indian company.
Bhetuwal said that Bangladesh has also proposed Nepal to buy Bangladeshi power in the winter, and this would also be the topic of discussion during the proposed bilateral meeting.
Meanwhile, according to Bhetuwal, the two countries would consider establishing two storage-type hydropower projects with Bangladeshi investment: the 683MW Sunkoshi-3 Hydropower Project and the Khimti Sivalaya Hydropower Project.
When the two sides met virtually in September of last year, they agreed to collaborate to look into the potential of developing the Sunkoshi-3 Hydropower Project with Bangladeshi investment.
Authorities have, however, yet to determine the capacity of the proposed Khimti Sivalaya Hydropower Project to be developed in Dolakha and Ramechhap districts.
“Its capacity might be in the range of 1100MW to 1720MW, based on the ongoing feasibility study,” said Gopi Prasad Sah, information officer at the Department of Electricity Development.