Mekong Utility Watch

China to tap Tibet’s hydel potential to sell power to India

The Hindu
September 17, 2002

China wants to harness the hydroelectric capacity of rivers in eastern Tibet and sell the bulk of the power to India, The Hindu reports.

India and China could soon be cooperating in the energy sector. The Chinese administration is working on harnessing the hydel power capacity in Tibet, with plans to market bulk of the electricity to India. At a recent International Conference of System Operators in Beijing, a senior official with the China Electricity Council (CEC) had said that the Chinese administration is considering utilising the large potential for hydroelectric resources in Eastern Tibet to sell power to countries such as India. CEC is a consolidated organisation of China’s state-owned power enterprises and institutions. The Indian delegation to the conference was led by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd’s Chairman and Managing Director, Mr R.P. Singh, and comprised officials from the Ministry of Power.

Tibet’s hydel potential: The Tibet Autonomous Region has a hydel potential of 1,00,000 MW, and the Chinese administration is planning to tap the potential with the idea to market power outside the country, the Chinese delegate said at the conference. The rivers of the Tibet Autonomous Region, including the Lhasa and the Ni-yang-chu, are estimated to have enormous hydroelectric power potential, totalling about one-third of China’s potential hydroelectric resources. Cooperation between the Indian and Chinese sides in the electricity sector was kicked off by the regulatory establishments in both countries. A high-level delegation from India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission visited China in August at the invitation of the Chairman of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) of China. The visit followed a trip by an SERC team to India in October last year.

Bilateral exchange: At present, India has bilateral exchange of electricity with Nepal and Bhutan, but there are plans to jointly set up a regional grid in the South Asian region for electricity trading between the BIMSTEC member countries (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal) and a power exchange is also on the anvil. While China is currently not engaged in large-scale cross-border electricity trading, it has started importing electricity from Russia recently. In addition, it has plans to connect a part of its electricity grid to the Thailand power system in a bid to export electricity. For its domestic power consumption, China has embarked on a major capacity addition spree and the country has added over 3 lakh MW in less than four years. While India’s overall installed capacity is still only around 1.23 lakh MW, China is working towards achieving an installed capacity of 5.25 lakh MW by the end of this fiscal.

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