What’s Behind Nepal’s Frequent Power Outages?

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It is said that without continuous development in infrastructure such as transmission lines, it is not possible to provide uninterrupted electricity

Sometimes while cooking food while cooking and sometimes while ironing clothes while ironing – many people are having these experiences now.

It’s mid-winter now. All the streams have grown.

This is also the time when production in Nepal, which is highly dependent on river-based electricity, will reach a high point.

And again at this time, why is the frequent electricity cut off?

Nepal Electricity Authority’s answer is – technical glitches during rains.

what a mess

Suresh Bahadur Bhattarai, spokesperson of the authority and director of the system operation department, has linked the trend of power outages to the complications caused by the rainy season.

“Our network of transmission lines across the country is spread through many forests. During the transmission of electricity from power stations from east to west, forest areas fall somewhere,” he said explaining the reason.

“During the rainy season, in some parts of the forest, the ground gets wet and becomes weak. Then there is a situation where the surrounding trees are slightly bent and touch the wire or the wind blows the branch and touches it. Due to such a situation, there is now a disruption in electricity transmission across the country.”

He said that incidents such as ‘earth faults’ and external elements touching the transmission lines caused by interruptions in the natural transmission of electricity are causing problems now and then.

“This is the reason why there is a problem in uninterrupted flow of electricity whether in Kathmandu or in other parts of the country,” said Bhattarai.

He said that apart from that, electricity may have been lost due to accidents like local fire, pole moving, disturbance in the transformer or due to regular maintenance.

The challenge of poor infrastructure

Experts say that the root of such complications in the system is existing problems in infrastructure and engineering.

According to Hitendradev Shakya, the former chief executive director of the authority, such disturbances continue to occur because the infrastructure cannot be developed to match the extensive changes in production and consumption.

“During the rainy season, the problem of land flooding or plants being uprooted is not new. But now why it is increasing is because our transmission line infrastructure and medium voltage infrastructure is overloaded,” said Shakya.

“We are currently consuming 43,000 to 44,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy per day, but our infrastructure is developing very slowly. That’s why there has been a lot of pressure on the infrastructure for the past four-five years,” Shakya said.

In such a situation, as soon as a small problem arises, it affects other lines, he said.

“And again, it is also necessary to update the engineering safety system including switching gear in that infrastructure,” he said.

What is the solution?

Shakya said that infrastructure improvement and upgrading of engineering technology is necessary for this.

He said that when it comes to infrastructure development, the difficulty of acquiring land for the construction of transmission lines and the tendency of people not to allow anyone to build them on their land has become a challenge.

And since various control and security systems are being used out of date, it is necessary to pay attention to the development of technology, he says.

There seems to be a lot of delay in the construction of infrastructure, especially transmission lines.

“For example, the 400 KV line from Hetauda to Inaruwa has not yet been built. Similarly, the 220 KV line from Hetauda to Bardghat should be charged 10-12 years before today. But there are delays due to various reasons such as construction issues, disputes over private land use and court cases,” said Bhattarai, spokesperson of the authority.

He said that everyone should help the authority in solving such issues. “Such problems can be solved only if large transmission lines of 400 KV and tower structures higher than trees can be built,” said Bhattarai.

If we do not pay attention to these issues, experts have warned that this problem will increase in the coming years.

What is the state of production?

Bhattarai said that the installed capacity in Nepal, that is, the total production capacity, is around 2800 MW.

He said that Nepal Electricity Authority’s contribution is around 500 megawatts and the rest is being contributed by Independent Power Producers.

He said that now the high demand has reached more than 2,000 megawatts.

Demand on average is less than that.

India can export up to 452 MW of electricity.

On the one hand, the production is more than the consumption and on the other hand, the lack of network including transmission lines has caused a large amount of electricity to be wasted, especially during the rainy season.

Source: BBC NEWS NEPALI