Nepal Electricity Authority is planning to import around 35 megawatts of additional electricity from India to limit load-shedding hours as energy production here starts to fall with the advent of the winter season.
“We will start importing around 30 to 35 MW of additional electricity by the end of January if everything goes according to plan,” Bhuwan Chhetri, chief of the Load Dispatch Centre at NEA, told The Himalayan Times.
Currently, the state-owned utility company is importing around 230 MW of electricity from India, up 21 per cent from last year’s 190 MW. Despite increased supply from India, NEA increased load-shedding hours from eight to 10 per day in the Kathmandu Valley beginning yesterday due to rising electricity consumption and falling production.
Electricity demand, which hovered around 17-17.20 million units per day till last fiscal year, shot up to around 18-18.20 million units per day this year. To meet this demand, the country needs plants that can generate over 1,300 MW of electricity. But NEA produces around 478 MW of electricity through a number of hydroelectric projects that it owns, around 53.4 MW through thermal plants and around 100 KW from solar plants. Also, hydro projects owned by the private sector generate around 256 MW of electricity and other small hydel plants produce around 4.6 MW of electricity.
With these projects, the country’s total installed capacity hovers around 790 MW.
Yet, production from most of the hydro plants does not remain stable throughout the year because most of them are run-of-the-river type. As a result, electricity generation dwindles to around 500 MW during the winter season, when the country receives very little or no rain.
“To meet the electricity demand of the dry season (winter season), we will have to make a lot of investment, which is not possible at the moment. But we can definitely provide some relief to consumers by increasing imports,” Chhetri said. “This way we plan to limit load-shedding to 12 hours per day during winter season.”
Last year too, NEA had limited power cuts to 12 hours per day.
To ensure power cuts do not go beyond 12 hours per day, NEA is planning to make use of two 132 kV transmission lines — Kusaha-Kataiya, Gandak-Ramnagar — to bring in electricity from India.
“We can bring in around 25 MW to 33 MW of additional electricity using each of these transmission lines, as their capacity has not been fully utilised so far,” Chhetri said. “But for that we will have to wait for some time, as the power company on the Indian side is upgrading transformers at the moment. We hope these works will be complete by January-end.”
NEA is importing electricity using 13 cross-border transmission lines, of which three are of 132kV and the rest of 33 kV capacity. However, electricity brought using 33kV lines can only be used in areas in the vicinity of Nepal-India border.
To supply electricity purchased from India to places like Kathmandu, NEA is using three 132 kV Kusaha-Kataiya, Gandak-Ramnagar and Mahendranagar-Tanakpur transmission lines.
• Electricity demand, which hovered around 17-17.20 million units per day till last fiscal year, shot up to around 18-18.20 million units per day this year
• The country’s total installed capacity should be around 1,300 MW but hovers around 790 MW
• Electricity generation dwindles to around 500 MW during the winter season