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Tamakoshi delay makes Nepal lean on power imports

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Nov 14, 2018-

The delay in completing the much awaited Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project leaves Nepal no option but to rely on the electricity imported from India to eliminate power cuts this winter when output of the river-run domestic plants drops significantly.

As the Nepal Electricity Authority’s plan to switch on at least one of the six turbines of the 456MW project to generate 76 megawatts by December didn’t materialise, reduction in power imports from India will not be possible soon, officials say.

Currently, the state-owned NEA is addressing the peak electricity demand by importing around a third of the total national need from India via various cross-border transmission lines.

On Tuesday, the peak demand for electricity was 1101MW, according to the power utility. Domestic hydropower plants owned by the NEA and private developers

contributed 736MW while 365MW was imported from India via more than a dozen points.

Although the total installed capacity of the domestic plants is 1027MW, actual power generation has dropped by around 29 percent since the water level in the rivers where the plants are located has gone down. As the currents will be weaker in the coming days, power output will plunge deeper, forcing the NEA to import more electricity from the southern neighbour.

As a majority of hydroelectric stations in the country are run-of-the-river type, output drops sharply in the dry season. Only the Kulekhani I and II, with a combined capacity of 92 megawatts, are driven by reservoirs.

“It is true that we will have to rely on electricity imported from India to meet our peak demand this winter too,” said Prabal Adhikari, the NEA spokesperson. The actual output would depend on the lowest water level on rivers. Last winter, when the output of domestic plants dropped by more than a half, the NEA imported around 500MW from India during peak hours. The NEA has made it clear however that the decline in generation will not lead to resumption of power cuts in the country. “As we have upgraded the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur line, we are in a position to import an additional 100MW from India,” said Adhikari.

Published: 14-11-2018 07:14

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