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Hydroelectric Plant to Solve Nepal’s Power Deficit

Posted on the 26 February 2013 by Dailyfusion @dailyfusion
Nepal's mountain ranges and many swiftly flowing rivers endow it with huge hydropower resources. (Credit: Michał Sałaban http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Emesik)

Nepal's mountain ranges and many swiftly flowing rivers endow it with huge hydropower resources. (Credit: Michał Sałaban http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Emesik)

Despite of the country’s huge hydropower potential—current estimates are that Nepal has approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower—Nepal has an energy crisis with electricity demand growing at 10% a year and supply falling further behind. The Asian Development Bank is now lending $150 million towards a $500 million project to build a 140 MW hydroelectric plant.

Blackouts of up to 18 hours a day in the dry season are common, even in the capital Kathmandu. This forces businesses and households to use expensive and polluting diesel generators

“This energy project is a means to stop this crisis,” said Yongping Zhai, Director, Energy Division in ADB’s South Asia Department.

Nepal’s mountain ranges and many swiftly flowing rivers endow it with huge hydropower resources. However, the country’s total installed power generation capacity is just 700 megawatts—largely from hydropower. This represents only 1.5% of Nepal’s hydropower potential.

The 140-megawatt hydropower plant, to be located around 150 kilometers west of Kathmandu on the Seti River in Tanahu district, will generate electricity year round.

To ensure steady supply even during the dry winter months of November through April, the plant will be fed from a 7.26 square kilometer reservoir, making it Nepal’s first major hydropower plant with water storage capacity and a sediment flushing system. Around 85% of Nepal’s existing plants use the run of the river to generate power, which makes for lower output during the dry season. None have the means to cope with Nepal’s sediment-heavy rivers.

In addition to building the plant and a transmission system, the project will also provide at least 17,636 homes in the area of the hydropower plant with direct connections to the national power grid. Only around one-third of households in Nepal are connected to the electricity distribution grid, with connection rates much lower in rural areas.

The entire project will cost around $500 million and will be co-funded by ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency lending, the European Investment Bank, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

The hydropower plant’s construction will follow best international practice. ADB will ensure that the appropriate social and environmental rules, procedures and guidelines are adhered to. The project company, Tanahu Hydropower Limited, will invest in health and education programs as well as income and livelihood skills training for the local communities. ADB and its partners carried out climate change impact modeling work on the project, and will do more assessments prior to its construction.


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