World Bank to give $80 million to install 25MW solar plants

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    wbankKATHMANDU: The World Bank (WB) is extending a support of $80 million to install solar plants of 25 megawatts in a bid to address the power crisis faced by the country.

    The multilateral donor agency is mulling over floating a global tender notice within the next two months seeking applications from interested candidates to install the plants.

    “The preferred bidder will have to install the solar systems at existing hydropower plants so that the harnessed energy can be immediately evacuated to the grid. This will save cost as there won’t be a need to build extra transmission lines,” a senior official of the Ministry of Energy (MoE) told The Himalayan Times. 

    However, sites where these solar plants would be installed have not been finalised yet.

    The solar sector has lately drawn the interest of many in the country, as it holds the potential to reduce loadshedding in a relatively shorter period of time.

    It is said solar plants can be installed within nine months and power can be evacuated immediately thereafter, whereas hydropower plants take years to be built. Because of this reason, the government is mulling over generating 150 megawatts of electricity through solar systems next fiscal year, MoE Assistant Spokesperson Sanjeev Baral said. 

    “We are also planning to harness another 100 megawatts of solar energy in partnership with the private sector.”

    To lure the private sector towards the solar sector, MoE is planning to play a facilitating role in pooling land required to set up the plants. 

    “In this regard, teams have been deployed in the country’s eastern, central and western parts to scout for best sites for generation of solar energy,” Baral said. “We are also planning to help the private sector in selling the electricity generated through solar plants to Nepal Electricity Authority.” 

    Although rapid installation of solar plants is likely to play a crucial role in resolving power crisis faced by the country, many deter from making the move due to the high cost associated with it.

    “The cost of per unit of solar electricity stands between Rs 12 and Rs 15,” Baral said. Even the World Bank’s proposed solar project is expected to generate per kilowatt hour of electricity at around 15 US cents (approximately Rs 14.37). 

    “If we use batteries to store electricity generated in the daytime, per unit solar energy generation cost shoots up to Rs 25,” Baral added.

    In contrast to these prices, Nepal Electricity Authority is currently purchasing per unit of electricity at as little as Rs 8.40 during winter and at Rs 4.80 during other seasons from hydro projects with less than 25 megawatts of capacity. 

    “But if we start comparing prices at this stage, the country will have to continue living in darkness for some more years,” Baral said. 

    Source : The Himalayan Times