Govt estimates 200MW can be added to grid this year
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
Dec 31, 2015- Nepal has turned to its flaunted hydro resources as a severe fuel shortage and lengthening power cuts threaten to bring life to a halt, with government agencies estimating that 200 MW can be added to the national grid this year if gasoline is provided to the stalled projects. According to the Department of Electricity Development (DoED), the construction of as many as 20 small hydropower projects with capacities ranging from 25 to 50 MW and the Upper Marsyangdi Hydropower Project can be completed within this fiscal year to generate an additional 205.59 MW.
A report prepared by the DoED has stated that the construction of a majority of the projects has been delayed due to unavailability of fuel. Their diesel requirements range from 34 litres daily to 2,500 litres daily depending on their size. The DoED has stated that the construction of these stalled projects can be completed within one to seven months. Most of them are being developed by independent power producers (IPPs). The 50 MW Upper Marsyangdi, 25 MW Upper Madi, 22.2 MW Upper Chaku, 14.9 MW Hewa Khola, 13.6 MW Thapa Khola and 9.98 MW Upper Mai, among others, have the prospect of being completed within six months. Fuel has become one of the major issues pushing back the completion date of these projects after a blockade imposed by India choked off the country’s fuel supply for more than four months. Even though the government has stated that it is possible to connect 205.59 MW to the national grid within the current fiscal year, the Independent Power Producers Association of Nepal (Ippan) said it would be possible to connect only around 100 MW within the time stipulated by the government.
“We did a calculation and concluded that it is indeed possible to generate around 100 MW within the current fiscal year. However, we have to work fast,” Ippan President Khadga Bahadur Bisht said. All the stakeholders will have to be serious to achieve this target within the next seven months, he added. According to Bisht, gasoline and labour are the major requirements for the projects to be completed on time. “Apart from this, the government should work proactively to provide assistance as required by the projects,” Bisht said.
The IPPs said that a severe shortage of manpower had occurred immediately after the April 25 earthquake as terrified employees refused to return to work. “Now the main problem is lack of fuel.” They also said that since all these projects had been started after concluding connection agreements with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), they expect transmission lines to be in place by the time the construction work is finished so that the energy generated can be evacuated right away