The demand of electricity in Nepal is rising by 10-15 percent every year, but the rise in generation and connection to the national grid is much lower. While the peak demand has reached 1,005 MW now, our installed capacity is mere 760 MW. Formal data shows that around 56 percent of the population has access to electricity while the rest 44 percent still has to live in darkness. Event the 56 percent that has access to electricity does not get regular supply as the country is facing four hours of load-shedding even during the monsoon while it can rise to as high as 18 hours a day during the dry season. Electricity is imported from India to meet the demand but the country still has to suffer from crippling power cuts during the dry season.
We talk about exporting the electricity generated here to India while speaking about the potential of hydropower development in Nepal, and almost all the projects above 100 MW currently being constructed are export-oriented. It is unfortunate that we have to import electricity worth billions of rupees every year from the country that we wish to export our electricity to, the country that itself needs energy. We had to import 746.07 million units of electricity from India in the last fiscal year, 175 MW during the dry season, at Rs 4.64 billion. The government is preparing to import 240 MW in the upcoming dry season. The demand of electricity will rise more rapidly in the coming 5-10 years and Nepal will continue to suffer from acute load-shedding if electricity generated from the majority of the projects, with combined capacity of around 2,500 MW, currently being constructed were to be exported to India. That is precisely why there have been strong demands to keep clauses allowing us to procure electricity if needed from even the export-oriented projects.
The fact that at least Rs 30 billion went abroad for production of electricity through captive generation (thermal energy) in the last fiscal year is not good for the country. Nepali industrialists/entrepreneurs are forced to spend on expensive thermal energy due to lack of electricity. Thermal plants with capacity of around 650 MW are in operation across the country, according to the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). The country has to spend billions of rupees a year for diesel and other fuels for these plants and this is the main reason for escalation of trade deficit to over Rs 500 billion a year. The industrialists/entrepreneurs are forced to spend on generators, inverters and other equipment as they do not get sufficient electricity from the national transmission system.
It is necessary to expedite the completion of projects being constructed, reduce the leakage of around 26 percent, and save electricity from the government system as much as possible and supply it to the essential sectors , as import of such alternative equipment cannot be stopped at the current situation. It is unfortunate that we have to live in darkness being unable to generate even 10 percent of our total potential. Development of hydropower projects is the only long-term and reliable option to end the current situation. We should also adopt policies of developing small and micro hydropower projects, and alternative sources like solar and wind energy for the places where the national transmission line cannot reach due to geographical limitations. Paying attention to use of alternative sources of energy instead of the electricity from the national transmission line for domestic consumption can also contribute to saving of our national capital and electricity.
Source : Karobar