Monday, March 17, 2008

India-Sri Lanka power transfer project feasibility report soon

New Delhi, March 15 The feasibility study for the proposed $450-million mega undersea power transmission link between India and Sri Lanka is slated to be ready shortly.

The 200-km submarine cable would enable India to export electricity to the island nation and is likely to be set up with a capacity to wheel around 1,000 MW of electricity, government officials involved in the exercise said.

The report on the HVDC (high voltage direct current) link between the two countries is being prepared by State-owned transmission major Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), which had earlier estimated that it can set up the link in around 40 months once all clearances are in place, officials said.

The link is likely to connect Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province.

While a joint Steering Committee has been set up to oversee the project, a task force comprising representatives of the Power Ministry, Central Electricity Authority and PGCIL on the Indian side and the Sri Lankan Energy Ministry and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) on the other, has been firmed up to study the feasibility report and make recommendations to the Committee.

Officials said Indian utilities could get higher tariffs from electricity supplies to the country. Initially, surplus power would be transmitted from India to Sri Lanka using the link.

With NTPC Ltd, already working on a 500-MW coal fired plant in Trincomalee, wheeling power from Sri Lanka to India could also be a possibility over the long term, they said.

Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers had, early last year, given its go-ahead to its Energy Ministry on the project and the United States Agency for International Development is reportedly extending technical assistance to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka currently uses diesel — one of the most expensive power generating resource — for nearly 65 per cent of its power generation. The generation cost there is around Sri Lankan Rupees 15 per unit (about Indian Rs 6.21 per unit), according to CEB data. India currently has transmission links with only Bhutan, as part of the 1,040 MW Tala hydroelectric power evacuation system. The proposal to link-up countries in the South Asian region is being seen as a forerunner to the proposed BIMSTEC power transmission network, which is under active consideration.