India explores “cheap power” sales to neighbors

India is exploring selling “cheap power” to its South Asian neighbors and Myanmar on a long-term basis and wants state utility NTPC to expand overseas. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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India explores “cheap power” sales to neighbors

NEW DELHI: India is exploring selling “cheap power” to its South Asian neighbors and Myanmar on a long-term basis and wants state utility NTPC to expand overseas, its power minister said on Tuesday.
Indian companies such as Reliance Power Ltd. and Adani Power Ltd. have already signed agreements to supply power to Bangladesh, where New Delhi is fighting for influence with China. India also sells some electricity to Nepal and Myanmar, but power minister R.K. Singh said it could sell more.
“Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh are viable markets ... where the per-unit cost of electricity is very high,” Singh said in a statement released by the power ministry.
“There is huge opportunity to export cheap power to neighboring countries which will be beneficial for the entire region,” he said.
The ministry would look at sending teams to those countries to assess demand for power imports, he said.
Singh urged India’s top utility NTPC to set up power plants in other countries and “become the world’s largest power producer,” but did not say where it should expand.
India became a net exporter of electricity in 2016, although it also imports from neighboring Bhutan.
Singh, however, said its power surplus would start to decline once all households are connected. Currently around 300 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are without electricity.
“If you look at the entire power sector, the demand has been suppressed because not everyone is connected,” Singh said. “We have just started taking off and are going to enter double digit growth. What we see as excess capacity today may not turn out to be enough if we unlock that demand.”
Many Indian power companies have struggled to repay loans in the past three years after expanding aggressively at the beginning of this decade, as a combination of tepid demand and uneven coal supplies hit their operations.


Infectious diseases are set to become as great a risk for global business as climate change

Updated 5 min 55 sec ago
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Infectious diseases are set to become as great a risk for global business as climate change

LONDON: The Global Risks Report 2019 jointly compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Harvard Global Heath Institute describes a world that is woefully ill-prepared to detect and respond to disease outbreaks.
In fact, the world is becoming more vulnerable to pandemics, despite advances in medicine and public health.
Global GDP will fall by an average of 0.7 percent or $570 billion because of pandemics — a threat that is “in the same order of magnitude” to the losses estimated to be caused by climate change in the coming decades.
“Outbreaks are a top global economic risk and — like the case for climate change — large companies can no longer afford to stay on the sidelines,” said Vanessa Candeias, who heads the committee on future health and health care at the WEF.
Potential catastrophic outbreaks of disease occur only every few decades but regional and local epidemics are becoming more common. There have been nearly 200 a year in recent times and outbreaks of diseases such as influenza, Ebola, zika, yellow fever, SARS, and MERS have become more frequent over the last 30 years.
At the same time antibiotics have become less effective against bacteria.
The impact of influenza pandemics is estimated at $60 billion, according to a report by the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future — more than double previous estimates.
The trend is expected to get worse as populations increase and become more mobile due to travel, trade or displacement. Deforestation and climate change are also factors.
Businesses need to bone up on the risk of infectious diseases and how to manage them if the overall economy is to remain resilient.
Peter Sands, research fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute and executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said, “When business leaders are more aware of what’s at stake, maybe there will be a different dialogue about global health, from being a topic that rarely touches the radar screen of business leaders to being a subject worthy of attention, investment and advocacy.”
Predicting where and when the next outbreak will come is an evolving science but it is possible to identify certain factors that would leave companies vulnerable to financial losses, such as the nature of the business, geographical location of the workforce, the customer base and supply chain.
Disease is not the only threat. There is also fear uninformed panic. Past epidemics have shown that misinformation spreads as fast as the infection itself and can undermine and disrupt medical response.
The report advises planning for such emergencies by “trusted public-private partnerships” so that “businesses can help mitigate the potentially devastating human and economic impacts of epidemics while protecting the interests of their employees and commercial operations.”
It is estimated that the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014-2016 cost $53 billion in lost commercial income and the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea cost $8.5 billion. According to the World Bank, disease accounts for only 30 percent of economic losses. The rest is largely down to healthy people changing their behavior as they seek to avoid becoming infected themselves.
The authors of the report will make recommendations next week at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.