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Work begins on Nepal’s largest solar plant

25mw photovoltaic power

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun on Friday laid the foundation stone for the construction of 25MW solar plant at Devighat Hydropower Station in Nuwakot. The government has targeted to complete the project within a year. Once complete, it will become Nepal’s largest solar power plant at a single location.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) said once the plant starts producing power, hydro projects such as Kulekhani, Kali Gandaki A, Mid Marshyangdi, Marshyangdi and Chilime will not need to need to operate during the daytime, saving the reservoir water for later use. The power produced by the solar plant will be fed directly into the national grid to supply it to the Kathmandu Valley during the day time. “The solar energy will help to balance the power distribution during peak hours,” the NEA said. 

On the occasion, Minister Pun said that the government has targeted to build solar plants with a total installed capacity of 500 MW within the next five years.

In February 2015, the World Bank agreed to provide $130 million to the government to build solar stations to supply electricity in the Kathmandu Valley and reduce electricity leakage. Out of that amount, $37 million was earmarked for the installation of solar plants at Devighat and Trishuli in Nuwakot district.

Although construction should have begun within a year of signing the aid accord, the NEA took two years to award the contract as the contractor selection process became engulfed in controversy.  The controversy began after former NEA managing director Mukesh Raj Kafle unilaterally decided to hire a Chinese company to build the project.

This company was later declared ‘technically unqualified’ by a committee comprising of international experts.

As a result, incumbent NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising decided to award the project to Risen Energy Company.

However, the parliamentary panel directed the NEA in August 2017 to scrap the contract following a complaint that the price of Rs3.7 billion quoted by Risen Energy was Rs680 million higher than the price tag proposed by the contractor favoured by Kafle.

The parliamentary committee stated that the procurement process, which led to the appointment of the Risen Energy, violated several provisions in the Public Procurement Act. Following the committee’s order, the Chinese contractor went to court. Subsequently, the Patan High Court directed the Energy Ministry not to implement the House panel’s decision, and the contract signed between the NEA and Risen Energy Company was reinstated.

NEA started implementing the solar plant project since last year following a court order allowing it to move ahead.

Published: 2018-04-28 08:45:41