Electricity shortage only to worsen

Kathmandu, February 3:

It is inevitable that Nepali people who are presently facing load shedding will continue living in the dark for many more years to come, thanks to our inability to construct power projects in line with the increasing demand for power across the country.

The demand for electricity increases by 10 per cent or around 60 mega watt every year, but today there is a deficit of around 70 to 170 mega watt power in the country. As there is no possibility of any new power project immediately, the problem of load shedding is likely to worsen.

Power supply began being disrupted for three and a half hours once every week since January 1 this year. But after three weeks, it had to be increased to 17 hours per week. And if the dry season continues and no other alternative is found, load shedding could double by the end of April, say concerned experts.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) saw a deficit of 309,000 unit of electricity in December/January last year which increased to 588,000 this year and by the end of April, the deficit could climb to 890,000 units, says NEA.

Though the current power capacity of the country is 609 mega watt, due to decline in the water level in rivers during the winter season, production capacity has gone down by 60 per cent. Presently, only 470 mega watt of electricity is being produced, thereby making load shedding inevitable, NEA says.

The situation worsens also because demand for power increases during winter, says NEA general manager Shambhu Prasad Upadhyaya. NEA has excess power during the rainy season as the production is as per the actual capacity.

Apart from the 90 mega watts of Kulekhani I and

II, all other hydel projects are based on the ‘run of the river’ thereby resulting in decrease in production when water levels in the rivers recede.

Unless attention is given to projects with reservoirs, the demand for power during the dry season cannot be fulfilled, says former NEA executive director Santa Bahadur Pun.

The 70-mega watt Mid-Marsyangdi, the only hydel project under construction, will begin power production from next year. But still demand would not be met fully. There will be a deficit of around 150 mega watt.

Prof Jagannath Shrestha, director, Institute of Engineering, Energy Study Centre, is of the view that attention should be given towards development and expansion of alternative sources of energy along with the construction of bigger hydel projects.

Assistant minister for water resources Binod Kumar Shaha said that talks are

being held to purchase an additional 20 megawatt from India in the east and also 15 megawatt from Tanakpur in the west.

Shaha also disclosed that legal provisions are being made to attract investment for the construction of small and medium scale hydel projects.

Chairperson of Butwal Power Company Gyanendra, Lal Pradhan recommends that attention has to be given towards fulfilling the domestic demand for power rather than dreaming of selling it abroad.

Former minister for water resources Dipak Gyawali is of the view that the increasing demand and supply of power could be managed by determining seasonal tariff and checking leakage.

The NEA has some eighteen projects in the pipeline, including the 30 mega watt Chamelia, 14 mega watt Kulekhani III, 309 mega watt upper Tamakoshi.

As per the target of the Water Resources Strategy, the government recently introduced the long-term National Hydro Project that targets to produce 4,000 mega watt of electricity by 2027, thus providing power to 75 per cent of the people.