Hydropower-based collaboration in South Asia: The case of India and Bhutan

India’s increasing growth in GDP, which rose from 3.7% annually in 1961–7.9% annually in 2015, has resulted in a rising demand for energy that almost doubled between 2000 and 2015. This trend is expected to continue due to urbanization, industrialization, and expansion of domestic manufacturing, encouraged by the Make in India initiative. A framework that considers a long-term road map for energy security is necessary to transform India from a country of chronic power shortages to one with reliable sources of energy. Elements of this framework include a sustainable energy mix, stronger reliance on green energy sources like hydro, solar and wind power, less dependency on coal, and strengthened cooperation on energy trade with neighbouring countries in South Asia. This paper discusses the long-term transboundary energy collaboration between India and Bhutan and the benefits for India in terms of diversification of energy sources and overall energy security. By assessing reciprocal benefits for India, we attempt to substantiate our claim that the India-Bhutan energy collaboration is strongly based on the principle of mutual benefits that extend to overall security. Cooperation between India and Bhutan is unique rather than a model in the region mainly due to mistrust and geopolitics.

By Cecilia Tortajada and Udisha Saklani, 2018. Article published in Energy Policy, Volume 117, Pages 316-325. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2018.02.046

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