Hope from private sector for solar energy

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    KATHMANDU, July 15

    solar_farm1Solar energy will now be procured from private solar plants through competitive bidding as budget was not allocated for procurement of solar plants as per the plan of Energy Ministry. The ministry is now counting on the private sector as its proposal of reducing load-shedding by generating 150 MW of energy from solar plants was not addressed by the Finance Ministry.

    The Energy Ministry had demanded a budget of Rs 15 billion to establish solar plants for 150 MW. It now plans to generate 50 MW through public and private investment within the upcoming fiscal year. The government has already announced establishment of a 25 MW solar plant through the budget for fiscal year 2071/72. The World Bank (WB) will provide financial assistance for that. Speaking to Karobar, Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishor Chhetri said that formulation of working procedure for procurement of solar energy from companies has already started. “We are preparing bid documents for plants to be established through the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). We will invite bids from private solar companies for additional 25 MW. We will procure from those providing at the cheapest rate,” he stated.

    He revealed that generation will be started by next March by installing solar plants after completing work for bid documents within six weeks. He claimed that load-shedding can be limited to 10 hours during the upcoming dry season by generating additional 50 MW of solar energy. NEA has projected daily load-shedding of at least 14 hours for the upcoming months of February and March. “The ministry is preparing to procure solar energy through competitive bidding on the basis of the program mentioned in the budget that has paved the way for procurement of solar energy from private companies through competitive bidding,” he added. The budget brought by the government on Sunday states that energy generated from solar plants will be added to the transmission line as load-shedding cannot be reduced through hydroelectricity alone. It has also brought a program of establishing a 25 MW solar plant within the upcoming fiscal year to reduce load-shedding inside Kathmandu Valley.

    “We will procure solar energy from private companies at competitive price as the private sector is ready to invest in solar plants. The main hope of reducing load-shedding in the upcoming dry season is solar energy. There is no chance of other alternatives,” he said. The Energy Ministry estimates the per-unit price for procurement of solar energy to be up to Rs 9. It has already formed a team for feasibility study for solar energy. He repeated that the ministry is not developing solar energy as an alternative to hydroelectricity and is instead trying to address the energy crisis for now. “There is no alternative for hydroelectricity in the long term,” he opined.

    The Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) has been installing solar plants at the rural households. It has already brought program to provide grant even in the urban areas to minimize load-shedding. A 600 KW solar plant has already been established at Sundarighat, Kathmandu, and started generation, with financial assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This energy has already been connected to the national grid.

    Source : Karobar Daily