Nepal nowhere at the top of South Asian countries’ list

    Nepal lies at the bottom of the list of six South Asian countries in terms of harnessing the commercially feasible hydropower potential, according to a study conducted by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

    The country has so far been able to exploit a meager 1.53 percent of the total hydro electricity potential. The average power harnessing in the six countries — Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh — is 23.15 percent.

    Nepal has a commercially feasible potential of 43,000 MW, but has an installed capacity of 659 MW. In terms of commercial feasibility, Nepal, however, stands at third position.

    Sri Lanka tops the list, utilising 54.93 percent of its potential, followed by India with 46.48 percent, Bangladesh 30.46 percent, Pakistan 11.11 percent and Bhutan 6.20 percent. Bangladesh has the lowest potential of 755MW and has harnessed just 230MW, according to the NEA study.

    Ram Chandra Pandey, general manager of the Generation Construction Division at NEA, said the country’s weak performance in harnessing hydro energy was due to the underestimation of the public sector’s role in hydro power development. “The public sector, which has so far played a crucial role on hydropower development, is criticised here,” he said, “But the private sector, which has not been as effective, is appreciated.”

    According to the NEA study, the public sector’s contribution in overall power generation in South Asia stands at 70 percent on an average. In Nepal, the public sector’s contribution is 76 percent.

    Subarna Das Shrestha, president of the Independent Power Producers’ Association of Nepal, said the low harnessing of power potential in Nepal was due to the government’s negligence in making long-term plans for power development.

    “The government didn’t allow the private sector to come into the hydropower sector for a long,” he said. “Now, the government openly welcomes independent power producers (IPPs) in hydro power development, but they have not been facilitated properly.”

    Shrestha also blamed the decade-long conflict, lack of financing, absence of infrastructure, and lack of protection of foreign investment for Nepal’s weak performance in harnessing hydro potential.

    According to the report, Nepal has the highest public-private participation in hydropower generation in the region. In the total power generated, public sector (NEA) has 72 percent contribution, independent power producers have 24 percent and NEA subsidiaries have 4 percent contribution. NEA’s subsidiaries include Chilime Hydropower project. Shrestha said IPPs were constantly making efforts to go hand-in-hand with the public sector in hydro energy generation.  Sri-Lanka stands second in terms of making joint efforts with the private sector. In Sri Lanka, the private sector has 14 percent role.

    Hydropower potential and utilisation in South Asia

    Country  Feasible (in MW)     Installed (in MW)     Harnessed (in %)
    India   84,044  39,060   46.48  
    Pakistan  59,000    6,555    11.11     
    Nepal  43,000    659 1.53  
    Bhutan 24,000    1,488    6.20  
    Sri Lanka 2,550    1,401    54.93  
    Bangladesh 755    230 30.46  
    Total   213,350    49,394    23.15  






    (Source: NEA)