Electricity imports declined as demand declined

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The demand for electricity, which had reached 1,452 MW before the lockdown, fell to 1,226 MW

Kathmandu: High demand for electricity has declined due to closure of many factories due to the lockdown. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has stated that the amount of electricity imported from India has also decreased due to the increase in domestic production and low demand for electricity.

According to NEA, the high demand for electricity fell to 1,226 MW on Friday night, NEA spokesperson Madan Timsina said. Before the prohibitory order was imposed, the high demand for electricity had reached 1,452 MW. A prohibitory order has been issued in major cities across the country, including the Kathmandu Valley, since April 30. He said that the import from India has decreased due to the increase in the amount of electricity generated by private sector energy producers.

As per the data on Friday, 350 MW of electricity has been generated from private sector projects. The NEA project had generated 390 MW of electricity. Even if the installed capacity of private sector projects reaches 750 MW, it will not be possible to generate electricity at full capacity in the dry season from run-of-river nature projects.

Kulekhani was operated at full capacity for a few hours daily due to low domestic production in April and May. Timsina informed that the Kulekhani project has not been implemented yet. On Friday, 487 MW of electricity was imported from India. Prior to the prohibitory order, NEA was importing more than 65 percent of the total demand. Due to the increase in domestic production and decrease in demand, only about 40 percent of the total demand is being imported. On Thursday, the high demand for electricity was limited to 1,052 MW. The high demand for electricity in Kathmandu Valley alone is around 250 MW.

NEA has started importing electricity from the Energy Exchange Market of India. NEA has started purchasing electricity from the Energy Exchange of India from May 1. Even in India, the NEA is getting cheaper by buying electricity from the energy exchange due to lower demand and lower prices.

Assessing that some private sector projects including Upper Tamakoshi will be operational by April-May, NEA had signed an agreement with NTPC Electricity Trading Corporation of India to purchase only 200 MW of electricity from May to June. However, NEA was forced to meet the demand in April-May after the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi and other projects being constructed by the private sector were pushed to completion date. As a result, two-thirds of the total electricity consumption had to be imported.

Construction of the Upper Tamakoshi has been completed and testing of the tunnel and penstock pipe has begun. However, during the test, the leakage of water in the manhole of the penstock pipe was found to be a problem and now the repair work is underway. Though it was planned to generate 76 MW of electricity from the first unit of the project by the second week of May, it will be postponed for a few weeks.

Projects promoted by the private sector, which have reached the final stage of construction, have also been pushed back due to the Covid-19 infection and prohibitory order.