Energy and Development: Assessing the Viability of Hydroelectricity Trade in the Himalayas

Nihar R Nayak is Research Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • May-June 2023

    The Himalayan region is renowned as a powerhouse of Asia. Despite its abundant natural resources, youthful population, and strategic location between two rapidly developing Asian economies, the social and economic conditions in the Himalayan region, particularly in Nepal and Bhutan, have remained consistently underdeveloped. Various factors contribute to this, including climate change-induced disasters, political instability, strained bilateral relations between lower and upper riparian countries, and inadequate resource management. This article aims to address the existing research gap by exploring the energy potential of the Himalayan region and its viability for sustainable economic growth in the face of increasing global temperatures and climate-induced energy crises. The article asserts that, unless the region diversifies its energy sources to include other renewables, the Himalayan region (comprising Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian Himalayan States-IHS) may not be able to serve as a stable hydro energy supplier to the South Asian region. This is due to inherent challenges and the strategic competition between India and China, both regionally and globally.