West Seti may generate less power than projected

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    Nov 29, 2016- The much-touted West Seti Hydropower Project may not generate as much electricity as expected, as the Chinese developer has signalled downward revision on its installed capacity, citing drop in water level in the river.

    The installed capacity of the project being built in far-western Nepal currently stands at 750 megawatts. The proposed reservoir-type project, which will spread over Baitadi, Bajhang, Dadeldhura and Doti districts, is being built at a cost of $1.6 billion.

    But during a meeting with Nepali Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal on Friday, officials of China Three Gorges Company (CTGC), the project developer, said the capacity may have to be reduced.

    If the installed capacity is revised downward, the project may generate less electricity than anticipated.

    “The CTGC officials said latest hydrological statistics show reduction of the water level in the river where the project is being built,” an official at the Nepali embassy in the Chinese capital of Beijing told the Post on condition of anonymity. “But they said the feasibility study of the project was still ongoing and would provide details after completion of the study.”

    The Chinese officials have indicated that more details on this issue could be shared during their meetings with the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) scheduled for December, according to the official. The officials of the CTGC shared the latest information after Poudel summoned them to the Nepali embassy in Beijing on Friday.

    “During the meeting, we told the developer to either expedite project development or return it to the government,” said the official. “We also told them not to linger around further.”

    The Nepali ambassador to China had sought a clear-cut answer after the developer failed to implement the project more than four years after winning the contract.

    The government had handed over the project to CWE Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of the CTGC, in August 2012, upon signing of a memorandum of understanding. As per the understanding, the Chinese company will own 75 percent stake in the project, with the NEA holding the rest. During the meeting, the embassy officials also told the Chinese developer to establish a joint venture company, comprising the developer and the NEA, by signing the joint venture (JV)

    agreement with the NEA at the earliest. CTGC officials had visited Nepal in March and laid the groundwork to sign the agreement, but the talks ended withough much headway.

    The CTGC told Ambassador Paudyal that the agreement could only be signed after completion of the preliminary feasibility study.

    A highly-placed IBN source also confirmed about the meeting in Beijing. “Our ambassador in Beijing has already informed us about the meeting that took place on Friday,” the source said. “We hope lots of things regarding the future of the project will be clear when the Chinese developers visit Kathmandu in December.”

    Source: The Kathmandu Post