Nepal worries about spillages as India delays power export approvals

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Nepal is waiting for approvals for 18 projects that were proposed to India over the last two years.

Nepal’s power generation capacity increased to 2,700 megawatts (MW) from 2,200 a year ago, but there has been no increase in the export quota that India has already approved for Nepal, which currently stands at 452.6MW.

This has raised concerns over possible spillages of electricity as without urgent approvals by India for an increase in Nepal’s electricity supply quota, that is the most plausible outcome.

According to the state-run Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), it has sent proposals from around one and half dozen projects to the Indian authorities for approval that would enable them to export the electricity generated to the southern neighbour. Some of the approvals are pending from as early as August 2021.

“There can be partial spillage in certain moments in July if the approval for selling power from the additional projects is not approved anytime soon,” said Suresh Bhattarai, spokesperson at the NEA.

However, NEA officials say that given the number of projects being damaged by recent floods, particularly in eastern regions, and the time it may take for their recovery, any large-scale power spillage is unlikely.

“We are receiving only 120MW of power from projects located in the Kabeli corridor from around 200MW earlier, because of the recent floods in eastern Nepal,” said Bhattarai. Besides loss of lives, a number of hydropower projects were badly damaged by the floods.

According to a Kantipur report, as many as 13 operating projects with combined capacity of 132.74MW were damaged by the recent floods in eastern Nepal while 17 under-construction projects with a combined capacity of 326.83MW were affected by the floods.

“Restoring them may take a significant amount of time. Hydrology is not good this year. Again, the load will increase, starting from mid-August,” said Prabal Adhikari, power trade director of NEA.

In this context, he said, there might be spillage of a certain quantity for a few hours in late July.

Adhikari suggested that a higher spillage of power might start from October, provided India does not start importing more than 452.6MW from Nepal. Lately, Nepal has been exporting 7000-8000MW hours a day to India’s day ahead market, which translates to 292MW to 333MW.

According to Bhattarai, Nepal’s overall peak demand on Friday was 1,932MW while the country’s power plants generated 2,149MW. “We sold power even during the peak hours in the country because of higher generation than peak demands,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country would buy 10,000MW from Nepal in the next 10 years. He made the announcement during a joint press conference with the Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal when the latter visited India from May 31 to June 3.

But when it comes to granting approval to Nepal’s power projects and enabling them to export electricity, India has been found to be reluctant in accelerating the approval process.

According to the NEA, there are projects that were proposed to the Indian authorities as early as August 2021 and approvals were sought for exporting power to the southern neighbour.

Chameliya (29.1MW) and Upper Bhotekoshi (43.65MW) are the projects that were proposed to the Indian side on August 20, 2021 and approvals from the Indian authorities were sought.

The 456MW Upper Tamakoshi was proposed to the Indian side for approval in January 2022.

The last four projects proposed to the Indian side seeking approval for exports were Upper Chaku 1 (21.53MW), Super Madi (42.68MW), Super Dordi ‘Kha’ (52.38MW) and Likhu 2 (50.89MW). The NEA had submitted their list to India on April 14.

India’s delay in granting approval to more Nepali power projects resulted in significant spillages of power during the festival season of Dashain and Tihar last year.

However, at a press conference on June 18, Kul Man Ghising, the managing director of NEA, had expressed optimism that the southern neighbour would approve the projects as early as possible.

“The approval process is ongoing,” Ghising had said. “We are hopeful that the Indian authorities will grant approval for more projects before the power spillages begin.”

By : Prithvi Man Shrestha
Source : The Kathmandu Post