South Asia Power Summit Sees Growing Energy Demand–Supply Imbalance
New Delhi, 16 December 2022: The Group of Twenty (G20) economies have witnessed a growing imbalance between energy demand and supply from indigenous sources, resulting in increased import dependence. Greater cooperation within G20 is seen as one of the most effective ways to deal with global energy deficits and ensure sub-regional energy security. It was in this context that the South Asia Power Summit was held in New Delhi on 16 December 2022. The summit, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, India’s Ministry of Power, and India’s Ministry of External Affairs, was a high-level public–private dialogue on the strategies for enhanced power trade, prospects of the South Asian power grid under the ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSWOG) vision, balancing infirm green power from hydroelectric power plants, and integration of power markets through common regulations across the borders.
As India assumed the G20 presidency, the issue of energy security was identified as one of the major objectives of the South Asia Summit to be held in September 2023.
Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Director of Research and Innovation at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), contributed to the summit’s thematic session on the OSWOG vision. Referring to the ongoing and completed ERIA research on solar supply chains and renewable energy integration into the ASEAN power grid, respectively, he presented the imperatives for designing, comprehensive transmission planning for establishing a robust power grid to enhance power trading. He said that realising OSWOG through interconnected green grids can be transformational, enabling all nations to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement to prevent dangerous climate change. He added that these efforts can stimulate low-carbon investments and create millions of green jobs. Dr Anbumozhi said one of the big challenges for implementation will be maintaining a stable grid over a large area as electricity grids are vulnerable to accidents, weather disturbances, and cyberattacks that could increase and disrupt electricity supply on a mass scale. He added that the mechanism of cost-sharing will be challenging if there are developmental gaps with power-trading companies. He proposed a phased approach, where India’s grid would be connected to the grids of the Middle East, and for Southeast Asia to develop a common grid. He said this grid would then be used to share solar energy as needed, in addition to other renewable energy sources such as hydropower and winds.
Mr Rajib K Mishra, Chairman of the B20 Core Group on Energy Security and Chairman and Managing Director of PTC India, reported that what India is doing today, in terms of quantum of energy exchange with neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, could be doubled in the next 3 years if Myanmar were included.
India’s Secretary of Power Mohammad Afzal told participants that for any market to develop and achieve global energy security, G20 countries have to be on the same footing, be it regulations, market openness, cooperation between governments, and cooperation between industries.
The participants, recognising the important means to ensure energy security globally, cited the need to gain commercial and sociological benefits from it, which could then be used for the region’s economic well-being. They observed that although there is a demand for open market shifting from bilateral to multilateral trade, the trend of the former, which has been fruitful and beneficial, still prevails but requires encouragement to shift to multilateral trade, which has multifaced challenges. They agreed that such a shift requires a comprehensive and adaptive strategy.