NTPC cool to ministry’s plan to export power

NTPC has refused to support the government’s plan to augment the export of power to India’s neighbours, saying it or, for that matter, India, with one of the lowest rates of per capita consumption of electricity globally, doesn’t have surplus power.

Commenting on a power ministry sponsored approach paper titled ‘Export of power to neighbouring countries,’ the PSU has said that it does not have unrequisitioned surplus power in the short term for exports to neighbouring nations. “...instead of long term export of power, a better model of bilateral resolution of the energy security issues in the region would be setting up of power plants by Indian companies in the neighbouring countries using their natural resources and sharing power between the countries from these assets like the arrangement with Bhutan,” NTPC has said.

The power ministry is pushing for increased trade of power between India and the neighbouring countries as part of its energy diplomacy. With most countries in the region having very low per capita consumption of electricity, the ministry feels that power exports would give India the twin advantage of improving relations with neighbours and making commercial gains from “unutilised surplus power.”

As part of this strategy, Power Grid has commissioned a 71-km Baharampur-Bheramara transmission link between India and Bangladesh. The cross -border link can facilitate electricity transfer of up to 500 MW from India to Bangladesh. Of this, 250 MW is from the Centre’s unallocated quota of power (at rates notified by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission) and the other 250 MW is to be contracted by Bangladesh from the Indian electricity market. A similar initiative with power-starved Pakistan is also being looked at.

“Bangladesh seems interested in cheap power from generation stations run on captive coal but is not willing to pick up power from the market that is priced at more than R3/kWh,” said a senior NTPC official.

NTPC has also said that any power sent out of the country means supply of green electricity to neighbours while keeping pollution generated by coal-based plants within the country.

The power PSU has said that neighbours, who have access to cheap oil and gas, should be helped in putting up power projects in their respective countries while India could explore the possibility of buying power from such projects even at a premium. NTPC has, however, offered to export power from the gas-based 1,967 MW Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd (RGPPL).

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