ESCAP report highlights benefits of integrated power grid in South Asia, essential for sustainable low-carbon future

New Delhi, 5 April 2018 – A new report published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) underscores the strategic importance of fully integrating South Asia’s power grid, as a key building block to achieve energy transition and fulfill climate change-related commitments in the subregion.

Released ahead of the Second Asian and Pacific Energy Forum held in Bangkok from 3 to 5 April 2018, the report examines progress made to date in integrating the power grids of South Asia and the multiple benefits that can be realized through the process, in terms of direct economic benefits, but also in helping countries prepare for a sustainable and low-carbon future.

According to sources cited in the report, Integrating South Asia’s Power Grid for a Sustainable and Low Carbon Future, the benefits of full power grid interconnection could be manifold compared to the business-as-usual scenario. The role played by an interconnected power grid for South Asia in boosting renewable energy, enhancing affordability and access while lowering emissions will have a bearing on the subregion’s efforts to achieve the SDGs.

With the right mix of national complementary policies, power grid connectivity will form the basis of a subregional delivery system for low-carbon energy, facilitating the transition to renewable energy, and as such become a regional public good for South Asia, the report states.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day Forum, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar acknowledged the growing recognition by Governments, the private sector and investors, that a sustainable, low-carbon energy system is the only option to “safeguard our future”.

“There is a palpable sense of the enormous opportunities ahead that can transform the energy scene. The [Asian and Pacific] region’s energy intensity has continued to decline but our enormous energy efficiency potential has yet to be fulfilled,” said Dr. Akhtar. “Asia-Pacific’s tradition and capacity to forge regional cooperation for mutual gain are well known, and our contribution will steer the global progress towards a world that uses energy sustainability”.

As Chairperson of the Forum, H.E. Mr. Awais Ahmad Leghari, Federal Minister for Energy, Pakistan, recognized national policy challenges and noted that the pace of energy transition for developing countries depended largely upon the provision of “finance and technology transfer”. “Managing the transition towards low-carbon and sustainable growth pathways has never been so imperative,” he said.

The concept of cross-border power system connectivity has gained increasing support from the international community in the recent past, given the benefits it can offer in lowering costs, diversifying supply and tapping into renewable and low-carbon energy resources.

According to the report, South Asia offers a unique example for the application of a regional approach to electricity. It faces current electricity deficits, with a strong demand growth outlook, but also has vast unexploited generation potential.

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