Despite an understanding among Bangladesh, Nepal and India, state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) still cannot import electricity from the Himalayan nation.
On August 28 this year, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said that import of hydropower from Nepal was almost final.
It seems unlikely that the power trade will happen before November. That means, Bangladesh will not get the opportunity to export its surplus electricity to Nepal during peak demand season in winter in the Himalayan nation.
Electricity demand decreases during winter in Bangladesh while it increases in Nepal.
According to official sources, after a long discussion at political and bureaucratic levels among the countries, India finally agreed to allow Bangladesh to initially import 40MW electricity from Nepal.
The import was supposed to start between August and September 2023, but negotiation on tariff remained incomplete.
Sources said the decision to start the import of 40 MW of power from Nepal was finalised in a two-day meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and Joint Working Committee (JWC) on Bangladesh-Nepal power and energy sector cooperation on May 14-15 this year at Patuakhali in Bangladesh.
Ahead of the meeting, Nepalese Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud visited Dhaka and held a meeting with Bangladeshi public and private sector officials where he urged them to invest in the hydropower sector in the Himalayan nation, holding about 60,000 MW of clean energy potential.
After the meeting at the Nepalese Embassy in Dhaka, Saud told UNB that he was expecting all issues to be resolved during the Nepalese prime minister’s visit to India – to facilitate Nepal’s export of electricity to Bangladesh.
In the follow-up, according to a report of the Kathmandu Post, during the Nepalese prime minister’s India visit (May 30-June 1), India agreed to facilitate Nepal to export 40 MW of electricity to Bangladesh through Indian transmission infrastructure.
India also made an announcement to buy 10,000 MW of electricity from Nepal over the next 10 years.
According to a recent report of The Kathmandu Post, “The Bangladeshi side has notified Nepal that they are seeking clearance from the political authorities on the agreement reached between the two sides at the bureaucratic level,” said Kul Man Ghising, managing director of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). “We are awaiting a final response from the Bangladeshi side to move on to tariff negotiation,” he added.
NEA officials said that the two sides have concluded discussion on everything except tariff at the bureaucratic level.
Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain said that he is not aware of the latest situation in this regard. He, however, noted that all necessary arrangements have been made for the cross-border power trade from both Bangladesh and Nepal sides.
He said that 40 MW of electricity was to be imported through Baharampur-Bheramara transmission lines which have enough capacity to import electricity from Nepal through Indian territory.
Sources said under the planned arrangement, Bangladesh will import electricity from Nepal through an Indian company as a service provider which will first import electricity from Nepal through an Indian transmission line and then sell it to Bangladesh.
They said Bangladesh and Nepal prefer a tripartite or regional agreement while India wants a bilateral deal in this regard.
Explaining the matter, they said, if Bangladesh wants to import power from Nepal, it has to first sign a deal with India, not directly with Nepal. Then Nepal will sign a separate deal with India. Each deal will be on a bilateral basis, and then a trilateral agreement among the three nations will be signed to facilitate the cross-border power trade.
Currently, Bangladesh is importing electricity from India through a similar arrangement where the Indian company NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) is selling power to BPDB.
In the case of electricity trade between Dhaka and Kathmandu, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will have to sign agreements with both NVVN and BPDB.
Apart from the 40 MW import plan, Bangladesh wants to import 500 MW of hydroelectricity from Nepal via Indian company GMR.
Officials said Bangladesh and Nepal are still pursuing India to sign the tripartite deal to facilitate the sub-regional power trade among the three nations.