Power output falls 60pc as river flows shrink

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    Feb 24, 2017- Hydropower generation in the country has plunged by almost 60 percent as the water level in most river basins has fallen due to the dry season. As a majority of the hydroelectric stations are of the run-of-the-river type, output drops sharply during the dry season when the water flow in the rivers goes down.

    The only power plants with reservoirs are Kulekhani I and II. These projects generate a total of 92 MW. But other projects in the country have seen a drop in output of up to 60 percent. Hydroelectricity generation at the 144 MW Kali Gandaki Hydropower Project, the country’s largest plant, has gone down by more than 60 percent to 56.1 MW. Similarly, the Marshyangdi Hydropower Project is generating only 31.8 MW compared to its installed capacity of 69 MW, according to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

    Power generation at the 70 MW Middle Marshyangdi Hydropower Project has come down by around 60 percent to 28.5 MW, while the Trishuli Hydropower Project, which has a capacity to generate 24 MW, is churning out a meagre 13.4 MW of power due to shrinking water levels in the rivers where these projects are situated.

    Likewise, hydroelectricity generation by other NEA-owned projects like Devighat, Gandak, Sunkoshi, Modi and Puwa has also gone down significantly. As the water level will continue to decrease until March, electricity generation is likely to go down further.

    Despite the drop in electricity generation, the NEA has managed to keep the Kathmandu Valley free from power cuts by running its peaking run-of-the-river type projects at full capacity during peak hours.

    The decline in electricity generation will not lead to a resumption of load-shedding in the Valley in the immediate future, the NEA has clearly stated.

    “As three large projects—Kali Gandaki, Marshyangdi and Middle Marshyangdi—are of the peaking run-of-the-river type, we are operating them at up to 90 percent of the installed capacity during peak hours when energy demand is high,” said Prabal Adhikari, chief of the power trading department at the NEA.

    “We are generating up to 325 MW during peak hours from projects owned by the authority.” Likewise, independent power producers are contributing around 150 MW, he added.

    To bridge the gap, Nepal is currently importing around 380 MW of electricity from India through various cross-border transmission lines. The country’s peak electricity demand hovers at 1,240 MW. The NEA has been managing the deficit of 385 MW by cutting off power to energy intensive industries during peak hours.

    The NEA said it would be in a comfortable position after a month with the water level rising in the country’s snow-fed rivers. “By the last week of March, the snow will start melting as the temperature rises, causing snow-fed rivers to swell into torrents,” Adhikari said. The Kali Gandaki, Marshyangdi and Trishuli are snow-fed rivers.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post