Nine years after construction work began on the Upper Trishuli 3A Hydropower Project, the first of its two turbines roared into life on Thursday, injecting 30 MW into the national grid.
The 60 MW scheme located 95 km north of Kathmandu in Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts is the largest hydel plant to come into operation this year. This brings the total amount of power delivered to the grid in the first 10 months of the current fiscal to 71 MW.
The addition of 30 MW to Kathmandu’s distribution system during peak demand will resolve all fluctuation issues faced by valley denizens, officials of the Nepal Electricity Authority said.
Initially, authorities had planned to begin commercial operation of the hydel plant by May 1, but delays in structural and performance tests pushed back the deadline. The plant will add another 30 MW to the grid by switching on the second unit in June.
The Nepal Electricity Authority built the project with a concessional loan of $114.7 million from the Export-Import Bank of China. The interest rate on the loan is 1.75 percent, and the repayment period is 20 years starting from the date of commercial operation.
The construction of a 220 kV Trishuli-Kathmandu double-circuit line to carry electricity from the plant to Matatirtha substation has also been completed, and the 45-km transmission line has started evacuating 30 MW to Kathmandu. The valley’s electricity supply will now become more reliable as power will be conveyed over a relatively short distance compared to the existing Hetauda-Kulekhani-Syuchatar transmission line, said officials.
“In terms of distribution, electricity from the Trishuli corridor has made our system more reliable and robust,” said Kulman Ghising, managing director of the Nepal Electricity Authority. “Also, we can now save water in the Kulekhani reservoir and use it to avert intermittent supply issues in other regions. The load centre is near Kathmandu, and the Upper Trishuli plant will produce around 45 MW even during the winter. This will help us to maintain the demand-supply equilibrium in Kathmandu,” he said.
According to Ghising, once the plant runs at full capacity, it will fulfill 8 percent of Nepal’s power requirement, and help the power utility to cut back on energy imports from India during the winter.
Apart from relaying the power produced by the Upper Trishuli 3A project, the Nepal Electricity Authority plans to use the facility at Matatirtha to transmit electricity produced by other hydropower schemes in the Trishuli corridor.
Initially, authorities had planned to finish the project in 2014.
But the project faced multiple setbacks. It sank into uncertainty after the contractor, China Gezhouba Group Company, halted work citing heavy damage to the access road and dam during the 2015 earthquake. Work resumed in 2017 after a two-year hiatus.
The electricity authority has commissioned six small and medium hydropower projects, including the 22 MW Bagmati Khola Small Hydropower Project and one solar plant built by independent power producers this fiscal year. The Upper Trishuli 3A is the first state-owned plant commissioned by the power utility and the largest this fiscal year.
Officials plan to launch another nine small and medium projects this fiscal year ending mid-July and add 160 MW to the grid. This will bring the number of independent power producer-owned projects in operation to 82 from 75 last year, accounting for a combined installed capacity of 554 MW.
In the next fiscal, the electricity authority plans to issue commercial operation dates to 43 hydropower projects including Upper Tamakoshi (456 MW), Rasuwagadhi (111 MW) and Lower Solu (82 MW).
Source : The Kathmandu Post