Eight hydroelectric project developers have entered into power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nepal Electricity Authority so far this fiscal year, expressing commitment to add 170.47 megawatts of electricity to the country’s energy grid in the years to come.
With the signing of these contracts, the total number of projects to take part in the country’s power production race has topped 153.
If the developers of these projects are able to live up to their promise, the country may start generating 2002.21 MW of electricity within the next five years — the estimated time taken to complete the project from the date of PPA signing.
“We aren’t sure whether all developers that have signed PPA will be able to complete their projects on time, but if they do, country may be able to meet the electricity demand forecast for the year 2018-19,” NEA spokesperson Sher Singh Bhat said.
As per NEA’s forecast, power demand will reach 1,906 MW by 2018-19. The demand for electricity currently stands at 1271.70 MW against the actual production of around 762 MW. “But even if the supply meets the demand in the next five years, power cuts may not be a history in the country,” Bhat warned. This is because the projection on electricity generation has been made on the basis of power that can be produced during the wet season.
This means the country may have the capacity to generate 2002.21 MW of electricity in the next five years, but this production will be limited to around eight months every year when there is rain. And during dry seasons, the country will continue to reel under power outages as electricity production capacity of hydro projects will go down.
“This calls for the need to build more reservoir-type hydro plants, which can collect rain and use it to generate electricity during the dry season,” Bhat said, without elaborating how many reservoir-type projects are required for the country to end the power crisis.
Currently, all hydro plants in country are run-of-the-river, except for 60-MW Kulekhani 1, which is the only reservoir-type hydro project. The government is currently planning to build another reservoir-type hydro plant— 600-MW Budhi Gandaki — but it may take years to complete.
Even if this project is complete, NEA is worried that power generated through run-of-the-river projects may go to waste during off-peak hours when country’s power generation capacity is expected to hit 2,002 MW. NEA has identified 11:00pm to 5:00am as off-peak hours, 5:00am to 5:00pm as normal hours and 5:00pm to 11:00pm as peak hours.
“As per the power demand forecast for 2019-20, the country will need 1,906.90 MW of electricity during peak hours, whereas installed capacity will top 2,002 MW if hydro project developers fulfil the commitment expressed while signing the PPA. This means a lot of power will go to waste during off-peak hours and normal hours,” Bhat said. “Considering this situation, it would be wise if government starts building more transmission lines to export power to India.”
Source : The Himalayan Times