Bibek Subedi, The Kathmandu Post, January 27, 2019
Electricity generation by domestic hydropower projects has gone down significantly over the last month due to a sharp drop in water level in the river basins where the majority of the projects are located. Power generation by domestic hydropower projects decreased by almost 24 percent in the last one and half months.
Although the total installed capacity of hydropower plants that are operating in the country stands at 1027MW, their electricity generation goes down significantly during winter when the water level in the major river basins across Nepal drops drastically.
On December 10, power plants in the country were generating 688MW of electricity during the peak hour when the demand of energy is highest in the country.
A month and half later on January 25, the electricity generation in the country during the same peak period stood at 525MW, a steep fall by 23.69 percent.
Currently, projects owned by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) are generating 331MW of electricity despite a total installed capacity of 507MW.
Similarly, privately owned hydropower plants are generating 194MW of electricity despite a total installed capacity of 520MW, according to the NEA.
The electricity generated from domestic hydropower plants is not even enough to meet half of the country’s electricity needs, forcing the state-owned power utility to rely on electricity imported from India to meet the domestic demand.
The NEA on January 25 imported 565MW of electricity from India via more than a dozen cross-border transmission lines to meet the national demand during the peak hour, according to Prabal Adhikari, chief of power trading department at the state-owned power utility.
Electricity import from India has increased by more than 17 percent in the last one and half months. Six weeks ago, on December 10, the authority had imported 482MW of electricity during the peak hour.
As a majority of hydropower plants in the country are run-of-the-river types, their output fluctuates with the water level in the rivers on which they are located. Generation drops sharply during the dry season when there is less water in the rivers. The only power plants with a reservoir are Kulekhani I and II. These two projects generate a combined 92 MW.
Currently, NEA-owned 144 MW Kali Gandaki Hydropower Project, the country’s largest plant under operation, is generating 59.2MW of electricity on average.
The 70 MW Middle Marshyangdi is generating only 29.8MW while the 69MW Marshyangdi is producing only 35.3MW of electricity.
Although the NEA had expected to cut power imports from India this winter, it didn’t materialise due to delays in the construction of the much-awaited 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project.
Electricity generation and import
Dec 10, 2018 Jan 25, 2019
NEA’s projects 445MW 331MW
Private projects 243MW 194MW
Total generation 688MW 525MW
Import from India 482MW 565MW
Peak demand 1170MW 1110MW