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IPI pipeline: 'focus on big picture'

India and South Asian countries need to work out a mechanism for regional energy cooperation by de-linking the subject from current controversies relating to IPI project, reports Srinand Jha.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2007 12:58 IST
Srinand Jha

India and South Asian countries need to work out a mechanism for regional energy cooperation by de-linking the subject from current controversies relating to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.

Iranian Ambassador Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh, sending out this message, reminds one of the need to focus on the big picture, viewing alternative options of grid connectivity and power trading to ensure energy supply from energy-surplus to energy-deficient countries like India.

Nabizadeh pointed out at a conference on Friday that Iran is exporting power to nine countries and approximately half a dozen other arrangements are being worked out with other countries. Azerbaijan and Armenia are importing 400 megawatts, while Pakistan plans to import an additional 100 MW. Therefore, the obvious question: Why cannot India come within the loop? The seminar was sponsored jointly by the Center for Asian Strategic Studies – India (CASS-India) and the “Strategic Affairs” monthly.

The European and Mediterranean experiences provide the take-off point and India should do well not to miss the bus, CASS-India Director AB Mahapatra said.

Two alternative options of power sharing arrangement exist. First, the laying of a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line from Iran to India with under sea cable traveling from existing Iranian power networks to Kandla in Gujarat. The other option is to draw power through existing Pakistani grid connectivity. Power drawn from Iran can get connected to Pakistani grid in Karachi and enter India through Rajasthan.

Interconnectivity of grids is an idea gaining support in countries including the United States, while the Baltic States are moving towards creating a Baltic electricity ring connecting all grids in the area. Compared to the traditional High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) power lines, the HVDC lines are being favored for their specific advantages. These lines cannot be overloaded and HVDC power flow can be controlled to ensure maximum power grid stability.