India used to be the center of gravity of everything we did at LIRNEasia. In terms of expenditure and effort, perhaps the center is shifting. But intellectually, the challenge of managing the asymmetrical relationship between Sri Lanka and India continues to engage. I was asked to write something for the visit of Prime Minister Modi. Unbeknownst, the piece had also been published in the government-owned newspaper:
One subject that is likely to come up in the Modi-Sirisena discussion is the long delayed coal power station. It came up when President Rajapaksa attended the inauguration in May 2014 and is certain to come up again. Prime Minister Modi’s visits to Bhutan, Nepal and even the northern regions of India clearly demonstrated his focus on securing low-cost, adequate energy for the growing Indian economy. Energy also featured in the discussion of President Sirisena’s visit to New Delhi.
A 500 MW plant is nothing in India. But, for the Sri Lankan system which has a night-time base-load demand of 900 MW, it is a very big deal. So big, that unless Sri Lanka is connected to the Indian grid by means of a cable across the Palk Strait, the system cannot absorb such another base-load plant of this size. The experts have communicated this fact. The feasibility studies have been done. But the South Block briefings still give primacy to the coal plant and not to its precondition, which is the cross-strait cable. The cross-strait cable will benefit both countries. Sri Lanka will be able to accommodate large low-cost generating plants; the south Indian states will benefit from more power supplies. The fact that the consumption profiles on the two sides of the Palk Strait differ to some extent will be of significance.
– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/way-forward-0#sthash.P4FHE1n2.dpuf