Power output soars due to rain-swollen rivers

July 13, 2018

The Kathmandu Post, 13 July 2018

Incessant rain in the last few days has raised the water levels in the rivers, allowing domestic hydropower plants to boost production and help the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) slash power imports from India.

The state-owned power utility, which was importing just over 406 MW of electricity from India during peak hours until a month ago, has slashed imports by around 9 percent. Currently, imports have come down to 374 MW during peak hours while imports stand at 300 MW on average.

The NEA said it would keep on decreasing electricity imports from India as power generation by domestic hydropower plants is expected to rise further in the near future as the major rivers on which they are located start to swell. A majority of the hydroelectric plants in the country are of the run-of-the-river type, and power generation goes up when there is more water in the rivers.

The continuous rainfall has raised the water levels in the rivers, increasing electricity generation by around 7 percent compared to a month ago. Currently, domestic plants are generating 797 MW of electricity, up 52 MW from a month ago, according to NEA statistics.

Domestic hydropower stations were producing 745 MW as of mid-June.

While NEA-owned hydroelectric projects are generating up to 410 MW, almost equal to what they were generating a month ago, private developers have boosted output by 48 MW to 387 MW.

In mid-June, power plants owned by private developers were producing only 339 MW of electricity.

The NEA said power generation would increase with the monsoon peaking. The total installed capacity of domestic power projects stands at 1,018 MW with NEA-owned projects producing 507 MW and privately-owned plants churning out 511 MW.  

All the hydroelectric projects in the country except Kulekhani 1 and 2 are run-of-the-river types, and their generation increases with a rise in the water level in the rivers. Similarly, output drops with a fall in the water level in the rivers where the hydropower plants are located.

After energy generation plunged almost 60 percent due to a fall in the water levels in most rivers, the NEA had to rely heavily on electricity imported from India to save the country from power cuts. The power utility imports electricity from India over more than a dozen cross-border transmission lines.

State of electricity generation

                                                  Mid-June 2018     July 11, 2018

Electricity from NEA projects    406 MW              410 MW

Electricity from private projects     339 MW         387 MW


Imports from India                    406 MW              374 MW

Total peak demand                   1162 MW              1168 MW

Source: Nepal Electricity Authority