Large-scale solar projects unfeasible

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    KATHMANDU, June 11:

    solar_farm1Experts have said the plan of installing large-scale solar plant floated by the government will not provide sustainable and affordable energy to reduce load-shedding. 

    They have argued that expensive per unit price, intermittent power supply, and lack of land to install solar panels will make the solar technology in larger scale, as floated by the government, unfeasible. 

    Khadga Bahadur Bisht, president of Independent Power Producers´ Association of Nepal, said large scale solar projects will be more expensive compared to hydropower. 

    “Generation of 100-200 MW will not make much difference in peak hour as solar plants will supply energy only during daytime,” added Bisht.

    The Ministry of Energy is preparing a plan to install large scale solar plant under public private partnership model. The plant will generate around 150 MW. The ministry is preparing to demand Rs 15 billion for the project in the upcoming budget.

    Referring to the proposed project, Bisht said we are shifting from the cheaper hydropower to dearer solar power or from one renewable energy to another. Bisht suggested to the government to use the money to provide incentives to private hydropower developers instead.

    According to Alternative Energy Promotion Center, solar technology (without battery backup) costs Rs 300 million per megawatt. Cost of hydropower hovers around Rs 180 million per megawatt.

    Energy expert Amrit Man Nakarmi said solar technology can only be a small option for the country´s energy mix. “But solar energy cannot eradicate load-shedding. Also the supply will be intermittent and the price will be expensive,” he said, informing that Indian state of Gujarat has been paying IRs 9 per unit to energy generated by private solar plants.

    Saying that it would be inappropriate to go for large scale projects directly, Bisht suggested to the government to choose small scale projects to begin with. 

    The government had earlier floated a plan of installing solar power plant of one megawatt capacity to light up Singhadurbar premises. It, however, reduced the capacity to 500 KW after failing to find sufficient space to install solar panels. Experts say at least 40 ropanis of land would be required to install panels for a one megawatt solar plant.

    Jagannath Shrestha, president of Centre for Energy Studies at Institute of Engineering, suggested installing solar units on rooftops of households or corporate houses in Kathmandu and urban centers instead of going for a large-scale solar project. According to Shrestha, solar energy is cheaper than energy generated by diesel-fed generators. 

    An incumbent secretary, who has a long experience of working with the energy ministry, said he would prefer diesel plant of 100 MW over solar plant of 200 MW to reduce load-shedding. 

    Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is also preparing to install a solar plant of 20 MW capacity under the assistance of the World Bank.

    Source : Republica