India explores "cheap power" sales to neighbours
By Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - India is exploring selling
"cheap power" to its South Asian neighbours and Myanmar on a
long-term basis and wants state utility NTPC to expand
overseas, its power minister said on Tuesday.
Indian companies such as Reliance Power Ltd and
Adani Power Ltd have already signed agreements to
supply power to Bangladesh, where New Delhi is fighting for
influence with China. India also sells some electricity to Nepal
and Myanmar, but power minister R.K. Singh said it could sell
"Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and
Bangladesh are viable markets ... where the per-unit cost of
electricity is very high," Singh said in a statement released by
the power ministry.
"There is huge opportunity to export cheap power to
neighbouring countries which will be beneficial for the entire
region," he said.
The ministry would look at sending teams to those countries
to assess demand for power imports, he said.
Singh urged India's top utility NTPC to set up power plants
in other countries and "become the world’s largest power
producer", but did not say where it should expand.
India became a net exporter of electricity in 2016, although
it also imports from neighbouring Bhutan.
Singh, however, said its power surplus would start to
decline once all households are connected. Currently around 300
million of India's 1.3 billion people are without electricity.
"If you look at the entire power sector, the demand has been
suppressed because not everyone is connected," Singh said. "We
have just started taking off and are going to enter double digit
growth. What we see as excess capacity today may not turn out to
be enough if we unlock that demand."
Many Indian power companies have struggled to repay loans in
the past three years after expanding aggressively at the
beginning of this decade, as a combination of tepid demand and
uneven coal supplies hit their operations.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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