World Bank to invest $130m in solar plants

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Nov 20, 2014-

The World Bank will finance 25MW solar power plants and other activities to be carried out curb leakages faced by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

The government and the global lender concluded the negotiation on mater on Wednesday.

The World Bank will provide $130 million in loans, while $8 million will be domestic component. Of the total, $54 million will go for solar plants, while rest will be used for reducing transmission loses, according to the Finance Ministry.

Madhu Marasini, chief of the ministry’s international cooperation coordination division, said a World Bank board meeting scheduled to be held in December is expected to approve the deal. “The loan signing and procurement process for solar plants will start immediately after the approval,” he added.

Government officials said the solar plants will be installed in Pharping, Debighat, Trishuli and Kulekhani. The electricity generated will be connected to the national grid.

“After the solar plants are completed, NEA will have to operate the Kulekhani Hydropower Project only during night time, meaning less use of the water of the reservoir-type project,” said  Hari Pandey, under secretary at the Finance Ministry.

The budget for this fiscal year has talked about injecting 25MW power in the national grid for the Kathmandu valley. It said NEA would also purchase surplus power generated by individuals/firms using solar panels with a generation capacity of more than one kilowatt.

“The WB funding, however, is not meant for plants to be installed in households,” said Marasini.

The solar plants are expected to provide electricity at Rs 12 per unit. “But the bidding process will determine the actual cost,” said Marasini.

Under the project to curb power leakages, it aims to reduce the loss to 10 percent from the current 24.79 percent by 2020.

For the purpose, a master plan will be first prepared after ascertaining where and how the leakage takes place. “Transformers, substations and transmission lines will be examined to find out the level of power leakage,” said Pandey. “New equipment will be installed if the existing ones are responsible.”

Pandey said the project, however, would not address electricity theft. “It is a matter that should be solved through administrative measures,” he said.

Published: 21-11-2014 11:02

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