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.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 24 May 2018
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.