The Bay of Bengal is a region with significant energy potential. Several Bay of Bengal countries—especially Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan—are rich in hydropower but do not have the resources to build dams or have the electricity demand to justify the expense. Bangladesh and most of India are net energy importers with large populations and growing demand, providing a ready market to make projects viable. What would seem a natural match remains unexplored. No projects in the region connect three or more countries—for instance, Nepal-India Bangladesh. The lack of regional electricity trade has encouraged Bangladesh to consider thermal power projects funded by China. This is where India can lead, supported by multilateral institutions. Strong Bhutan-India hydropower ties, evident from the large concentration of hydropower projects in Bhutan and power transmission lines taking this power to India, offer a blueprint for the rest of the region. India has financed and built over half a dozen dams in Bhutan, owned by Bhutan’s state-owned Druk Green Power Corporation. The electricity therefrom is exported to India, and the incoming revenue is Bhutan’s largest export. However, India has not been able to replicate this model in Nepal or Myanmar. In the absence of connectivity, Bangladesh is also unable to buy electricity from these countries. Multilateral institutions could provide initial support for these long gestation and big-ticket investments in hydropower in Nepal and Myanmar, which India and Bangladesh would ultimately purchase power from.
Amit Bhandari is Fellow, Energy and Environment Studies Programme, Gateway House.
Sagnik Chakraborty is former Researcher, Cybersecurity Studies Programme, Gateway House.
Naren Punjabi and Gitanjoli Dasgupta are former Research Interns.
Designed by Debarpan Das.
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The report is authored by Amit Bhandari, Fellow, Energy and Environment Studies Programme, Sagnik Chakraborty, former Researcher, Cybersecurity Studies Programme, Naren Punjabi and Gitanjoli Dasgupta, former Research Interns. Read the report.
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