Hurdles for storage plants to be removed

  • hydro project development
- RUPAK D SHARMA, Kathmandu

Mar 20, 2017-

The government is all set to remove hurdles in the way of building storage hydropower projects, as it is soon introducing a rule that would bar other development projects from framing implementation modalities that could obstruct construction of reservoirs, which store water for electricity generation.

A draft of the rule has called for coordination among different government agencies to ensure road, irrigation, integrated settlement and other infrastructure and development projects do not prevent or delay construction of storage hydropower projects in the country.

“The government should take note of this aspect while incorporating projects in the annual budget as well,” says the draft of the rule titled ‘Standard on Operation of Infrastructure and Development Projects within the Area of Storage Projects’. The draft of the rule was prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC), the apex body that frames country’s development plans and policies.

The government has prioritised construction of storage hydropower projects as they can store water for electricity generation, resulting in efficient use of the hydro resource. This feature enables project developers to generate electricity when demand is high, providing higher returns. 

Another benefit of storage hydropower project is generation of electricity during the dry season when water level dips in the river basin. 

Currently, hydroelectricity generation in the country drops dramatically during the winter because all of the hydro projects, except 60MW Kulekhani-I and 32MW Kulekhani-II, are run-of-the-river. Run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects generate energy based on availability of water in river basins.

Storage-type hydropower projects also help irrigate farm lands, supporting growth of the agricultural sector.

“If agri and energy sectors expand simultaneously, power generated by hydroelectric projects can, in turn, be utilised by cold storage plants or other such electricity-guzzling appliances and devices or by factories that process and package agricultural products. This can help create jobs and support the industrialisation process,” NPC Member Arbind Kumar Mishra said.

So far, the government has identified 53 reservoir projects, with potential to generate over 40,000 megawatts of electricity. Some of the storage projects which can be immediately built are 10,800 Karnali Chisapani, 4,800MW Pancheshwar, 1,200MW Budhigandaki, 750MW West Seti, 240MW Rupaligad and 140MW Tanahu (Upper Seti). 

Ongoing development activities have not affected these reservoir projects, according to Mishra. 

Earlier it was said 1,776-km Mid-Hill Highway would get in the way of construction of Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project. But that has not been the case, as alignment of the road project can be changed in certain segments to ensure timely implementation of the reservoir project, Mishra said.

Yet construction of certain reservoir projects has not been considered feasible, as they would lead to relocation of a large number of people and induce socio-economic problems.

Construction of 1,110MW Sunkoshi-2 hydroelectric project located in Sindhuli and Ramechhap districts, for instance, is expected to submerge half of the BP Highway and settlements up to Manthali.

“We have recommended that the government consider construction of such projects only after a period of 10 years,” Mishra said, adding, “Our objective is to facilitate development process, while ensuring investments made in major projects do not go to waste. The draft of the rule has tried to capture this sentiment.”

The draft of the rule, according to Mishra, would soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

Published: 20-03-2017 09:39

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