After solar, govt turns to wind power to end power woes
KATHAMNDU, Dec 22: Less than two months after announcing plans to build solar plants of 200 MW capacity, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has now turned his attention toward wind power to generate electricity. Proposal to harness wind power was tabled in the board meeting of Investment Board Nepal (IBN) as part of the government's plan to end load-shedding eradication within a year. PM Oli leads the board. Issuing a statement, IBN said it has been authorized to carry out works on harnessing wind power of 300 MW within a year in the first phase. The agenda came forward based on a proposal of Gurkha's UK Ltd to generate up to 3,000 MW from wind power within three years. Talking to Republica, Radesh Pant, CEO of IBN, said that they will explore feasibility of harnessing wind power. The study will also update a study on wind power harnessing conducted about a decade ago, according to Pant.
IBN is starting study on harnessing wind power after the government plan of generating electricity from solar power failed to give any visible outcome. PM Oli announced plan to end load-shedding within a year, but did not elaborate what the government would do to achieve the target. Government officials later clarified that eradicating power outage was possible only through imports. But work on cross boarder transmission lines have been obstructed due to Tarai unrest and Indian blockade. The Energy Development Work Plan 2015, which was devised four weeks ago, envisions fixing power purchase rate for solar power plants by forming a taskforce. It also asked Nepal Electricity Authority and Department Of Electricity Development to look for land for installation of the solar plants. “NEA will sign PPA with interested parties once the to-be-formed taskforce decides PPA rate,” Gokarn Raj Pantha, assistant spokesperson of Ministry of Energy, said. “The government won't invest in solar plants, and the private sector has not yet started any work yet.”
Experts say it would be difficult to find sizable land for installation of large scale solar power plant as envisioned by PM Oli. NEA has decided to install solar panels of a 25-megawatt solar plant in Kulekhani, Devighat and Trishuli after it could not find a single plot to install the panels. Due to tussle between NEA and Ministry of Energy, the process to award contract for the project has been stalled for months.
Energy expert Amrit Man Nakarmi compared the plan of installing wind plant with the diesel plant of 200 MW announced by erstwhile Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in 2008. The plan did not see light of the day. “Solar and wind energy can be alternative sources of energy. But they cannot be developed in large-scale in Nepal,” Nakarmi. He also said it would be difficult to transport huge rotor blades to high hills and upper part of the Himalayan region due to our difficult topography. “Rooftop solar is possible in city areas, but large-scale plants are not feasible,” he added. Panta said harnessing wind power is even difficult than solar power as the country does not have data of wind flow.
Nakarmi accused the government of deviating from important works of hydropower generation. Almost all the undergoing hydropower projects are facing one problem or the other as the government has not bothered to address their woes. Quake-hit projects with combined capacity of 80 MW, including Upper Bhotekoshi, have not been rehabilitated yet due to shortage of fuel and raw materials.
Officials say it would not be appropriate for the government to be carried away by whimsical plans brought by the private sector. “Most of the plans seem experimental rather than practical,” Nakarmi said. “We can meet our energy demand only by harnessing hydropower.”