Load-shedding unlikely to end in 3 years

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    KATHMANDU, March 22

    loadsheddingThe government’s claim to end load-shedding within three years in its common minimum program does not look justified with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) projecting daily power cuts of eight to 10 hours during the dry season even though there may be surplus energy during the rainy season as all the completed and under-construction projects apart from Kulekhani are run of the river (ROR) types.

    The common minimum program revealed by the government on Monday states that load-shedding will be ended within three years by adopting all alternatives for gradual minimization of the problem. But load-shedding does not look likely to be ended even in a decade as the necessary reservoir projects will not be built to meet the demand during the peak load period in dry season. There is also little chance of ending load-shedding by importing electricity from India as 400 KV Dhalkebar-Mujaffarpur and 400 KV Hetauda-Duhabi transmission lines will not be completed in scheduled time. NEA has already projected that there will be shortage of 900 MW in the dry season three years later while around 800 MW will be go in waste during the rainy season from 10 in the night to six in the morning from 2016.  Energy Minister Radha Gyawali has also claimed that load-shedding will be ended within three years and has even asked the critics to note it down in a diary. The political parties including Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML in their respective manifesto for the recent Constituent Assembly (CA) election had also expressed commitment to free the country of power cuts within three years.

    The installed capacity across the country will rise to 1700 MW by 2016 if all the projects that have signed power purchase agreement (PPA) with NEA were to be completed in scheduled time. NEA has projected that demand will rise to 1640 MW (7.60 billion units a year) but the projects will be generating only around 800 MW during the dry season as all the projects are ROR types. There will, therefore, be shortage of over 800 MW in the distribution system. The country is currently facing load-shedding of 12 hours a day when there is shortage of 600 MW in the system.

    Mistrikhola (42 MW) and two Sanjen projects (58 MW), scheduled to be completed within three years, look set to be delayed as the transmission lines will not be completed in time. Mistrikhola being constructed by Robust Energy will be delayed as there is no transmission line in the Kali Gandaki corridor while Upper and Lower Sanjen projects will also not be completed in time as the transmission line from Chilime to Trishuli 3 B hub also will not be constructed in time. The 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi looks set to be finished by 2016 with 60 percent of work already completed until now, according to the project office. Though the project will generate 456 MW during the three months of rainy season, generation will fall significantly during the dry season.

    The country is currently importing up to 200 MW from India to limit load-shedding to 12 hours a day. There is no possibility of importing more as the 400 KV Dhalkebar-Mujaffarpur and 400 KV Hetauda-Duhabi transmission lines will not be completed in time due to delay in land acquisition and other problems. There is also problem of transmission line to import 150 MW from the Power Trading Corporation. Load-shedding during the winter can be reduced significantly if 500 MW were to be imported from India including that.

    NEA officials claim that load-shedding will not be ended in three years despite the government’s common minimum program and minister Gyawali stating otherwise. “We have to agree as it was prioritized in the common minimum program and the energy minister also claimed so, but the reality is not so,” an NEA official said.  The current installed capacity is 770 MW including the 38 projects constructed by NEA and the private sector and the multi-fuel plants in Hetauda and Duhabi. But the multi-fuel plants have not been operated as the per unit cost of electricity generated by them will be Rs 30. The Energy Ministry has issued license to 86 promoters for generation of 2229 MW until now.

    Study to bring coal plant

    Energy Minister Gyawali has formed a committee to study feasibility of coal plants to reduce load-shedding immediately after assuming office. The ministry sources revealed that the committee is currently doing study and decision will be taken about it once the committee submits report. Nepal does not have coal reserves and will have to import it from India.

    Source : Karobar Daily