NEA plans to launch solar power project

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    KATHMANDU, JUN 20 –

    solar panelsThe Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has planned to diversify from hydroelectricity into solar power. In the next fiscal year, it will launch a solar power project with a soft loan from the World Bank (WB).

    The project, called Renewal Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (REEEP), has a capacity of 20 MW. It will be implemented at five places: Sunkoshi powerhouse (Sindhupalchok), Panauti powerhouse (Panauti), Trishuli powerhouse (Trishuli), Pharping powerhouse (Pharpi-ng) and NEA training centre at Kharipati.

    NEA Managing Director Rameshwor Yadav said it has been preparing to develop a solar power plant for the first time as a trial project. “Given the changing scenario in the energy sector worldwide, the NEA is of the opinion that it should also begin tapping solar power to utilize natural resources to the maximum,” he said.

    Madhu Marasini, chief of the Foreign Aid Coordination Division, said the WB has shown interest in playing a supportive role in harnessing Nepal’s renewable energy. “The NEA has been initiating the project as the donor agency has promised to provide soft loans for the purpose.”

    Following the WB’s commitment to provide the funds, the government has asked it to provide $50 million. As per the feasibility study conducted by the NEA a year ago, the project will cost a total of around $54.66 million including capital worth $50.85 million and operation and maintenance worth US $ 3.82 million.

    Ramchandra Pandey, general manager of the Construction and Generation Division at NEA, said the sites for the project had been chosen in such a way that it would not cause any financial or managerial liability to the NEA. “The project will be constructed on our own land and no additional money will be spent to procure land,” he said. It will be easier to feed the generated energy into the national grid as all these sites are connected by transmission lines, he added. He said that the government would begin the process of signing a loan agreement with the WB from the beginning of the next fiscal year. “Once the agreement is signed, we will begin the project development.”

    According to the NEA, it will take some eight months to complete the construction of the project. Of late, the government has begun showing flexibility towards the development of solar energy in the country. Last year, the Energy Ministry had made a policy decision according to which private developers of solar power projects would be allowed to use transmission lines to supply the generated solar energy into the national grid.

    In October, last year, the NEA had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese solar energy firm, Hunan Yueer Solar Energy Technology Co for installing a 30-MW solar station in the country. Once developed, it will be the largest ever solar energy project in Nepal.

    According to the MoU, the solar company will be established in Nepal and the NEA will buy and sell the electricity produced from the solar station.

    Meanwhile, the NEA has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a solar power project (680.4 kW) that was funded by the Japanese government.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post