With energy needs of South Asia set to triple in the next two decades, SAARC member countries meet in the Capital this week to thrash out better energy solutions

Representatives of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan will assemble in the Capital on November 24 to deliberate on developing economically viable and better energy solutions for sustainable and free flow of clean energy among South Asian region countries. This comes in the context of anticipated rise in demand for energy.

The one-day meet, to discuss energy policy and procedures followed by governments in different countries, has been jointly organised by the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. On the agenda are discussions on sustainable energy supplies with economically viable and better energy solutions. The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Vikramjit Singh Sahney, said that the oil prices and increasing energy demand have put severe strains on resources of all South Asian countries in order to ensure energy availability. It also has serious implications like slowing down of economic development, increasing inflation, deepening poverty and causing political and social instability in the region.

The South Asian region is energy deficient as it does not produce enough oil and gas to meet its needs. Thus, it depends heavily on imports. In the emerging energy and environmental crises, the SAARC region stands quite vulnerable, compared to developed economies. It is estimated that the energy needs of South Asia will increase three times in the next 15 to 20 years.

Some of the SAARC member states have considerable experience in using environment-friendly, renewable energy sources. This includes wind, solar and biogas plants in India, micro-hydro plants in Nepal, micro-financing for rural energy in Bangladesh, grid connected small hydro plants in Sri Lanka and small hydro and solar plants in Pakistan.

The clean energy resource potential is yet to be exploited as countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan either remain energy deficient or are not able to optimally harness and utilise their resources. The dependence on import calls for greater diversification of energy options especially towards renewable resources.

The conference would focus on South Asian countries which present a picture of enormous diversity in terms of composition of fuels produced and consumed. The relative size of consumption and issues of accessibility of modern energy systems, especially in the rural areas of the countries, are diverse and different.

The current and forecast energy requirements for the SAARC countries, their development needs and resource shortages require immediate attention towards improving the efficiency of energy supply and using the same across all sectors of an economy.

In the ecology of emerging energy and environmental crises, the SAARC region stands more vulnerable to impacts as compared to the developed economies. However, it can look forward to embrace energy efficient technologies, processes and systems more easily because they are in their infant stage of economic development.

Keywords: SAARCSouth Asiaclean energy