The project envisages a power transmission link between Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka with Chennai in India

In a major stride toward energy solidarity, India and Sri Lanka are collaborating on an ambitious power connectivity project valued at approximately USD 1.2 billion. This initiative aims to interlink the electrical grids of these two South Asian neighbors through an undersea transmission line, promising a future of enhanced energy security for Sri Lanka.

The project envisages a direct power conduit that will bridge Anuradhapura, situated in the heart of Sri Lanka, with Chennai, the dynamic capital of Tamil Nadu, India. This venture includes the installation of a 130-kilometer terrestrial transmission corridor in India, leading to a pioneering submarine cable line that is planned to emerge in Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar, marking a critical point in Sri Lanka's northeastern periphery.

This plan was brought into the limelight following the recent convening of the fifth India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on power sector cooperation on February 28. The gathering saw the participation of eminent figures such as Sulakshana Jayawardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy of Sri Lanka, and Santosh Jha, the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, who collectively deliberated on the intricacies of the power grid interconnection.

Jayawardena is reported to have highlighted the project's capacity to significantly uplift Sri Lanka's aspirations for a reliable energy supply. The discussions during the JWG meeting also extended to the Sampur Solar Power initiative and the inauguration of a hybrid renewable energy scheme designed to electrify Delft, Analativu, and Nainativu - three islands off the northern coast of Jaffna that have hitherto remained disconnected from the national grid.

The project, which represents a vision in the making for over a decade, received renewed impetus with India and Sri Lanka's latest agreement aimed at the development of these islands. It includes an innovative mix of wind (530 kW), solar (1,700 kW), battery storage (2,400 kWh), and diesel power (2,500 kW), underpinned by grant assistance from the Indian government.

However, the execution of this cross-border energy project necessitates further dialogues, notably on the financial front. Jayawardena unveiled plans for the establishment of a new overseeing body for the project, with Sri Lanka poised to claim half of its stake. He also called for a resolute legal framework to ensure the project's viability, reflecting on an earlier Memorandum of Understanding that facilitated preliminary technical assessments.

The Sampur Solar Power project, another aspect of the bilateral energy collaboration, has seen considerable advancement, especially following the recent visit of Sri Lanka's President to India in July 2023. This visit catalyzed the awarding of an energy permit for a 50 MW power plant to the Trincomalee Power Corporation Limited (TPCL), a synergistic venture between India's NTPC Ltd and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

Moreover, the spirit of cooperation extends beyond these projects, with discussions on a multi-faceted two-way oil pipeline and other energy-centric initiatives. India's engagement in Sri Lanka is reflected through a development partnership portfolio that boasts USD 5 billion, including almost USD 600 million in grants.

The undersea power link project between India and Sri Lanka exemplifies the deepening energy cooperation between the two nations and sets a benchmark for regional partnerships aimed at securing a sustainable energy future. As both countries navigate the complexities of implementation, the endeavor stands further confirms their ability to foster an interconnected and resilient energy landscape in South Asia.