India has installed power capacity of over 400GW and has declared itself a nation of surplus power. Yet, the official website indicates that the country also imports hydro power from Bhutan and Nepal. Is this just a case of hydro diplomacy or are the North eastern regions of India easily connected to the Bhutanese and Nepali grids ?
Not all ways to generate electricity are equal.
- Some kinds of power are very dependent on time and weather (solar, wind and, surprisingly, nuclear power plants which sometimes need to throttle down when the weather is too warm due to cooling problems)
- Some kinds of power are more reliable, but need hours to increase or decrease their output, so they can't compensate sudden spikes (coal, nuclear)
- Some kinds of power are able to regulate up and down quickly, but are expensive (gas)
- Some kinds of power might be able to provide power quickly, but might be bound to some natural reservoir that might run out and take some time to replenish (hydro)
- The ability of power grids to transfer power over long distances is limited. Which means that in a country as large as India, you have to take a more regional look at the economics of electricity generation and consumption. When there is a lack of power in Assam, then getting it from Bhutan might be more efficient than getting it from Rajasthan. (Just an example. I am not actually familiar with the power grid of India, so I am not sure if this is a realistic scenario)
The result is that even countries which on-paper have more than enough capacity to fulfill their needs and are "net exporters" of energy when looking at longer time frames will from time to time import energy from neighboring countries.