Hydropower in Nepal


Nepal has a huge hydropower potential. In fact, the perennial nature of Nepali rivers and the steep gradient of the country's topography provide ideal conditions for the development of some of the world's largest hydroelectric projects in Nepal. Current estimates are that Nepal has approximately 40,000 MW of economically feasible hydropower potential. However, the present situation is that Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydropower. Therefore, bulk of the economically feasible generation has not been realized yet. Besides, the multipurpose, secondary and tertiary benefits have not been realized from the development of its rivers.

Although bestowed with tremendous hydropower resources, only about 40% of Nepal's population has access to electricity. Most of the power plants in Nepal are run-of-river type with energy available in excess of the in-country demand during the monsoon season and deficit during the dry season.

Nepal's electricity generation is dominated by hydropower, though in the entire scenario of energy use of the country, the electricity is a tiny fraction, only 1% energy need is fulfilled by electricity. The bulk of the energy need is dominated by fuel wood (68%), agricultural waste (15%), animal dung (8%) and imported fossil fuel (8%). The other fact is that only about 40% of Nepal's population has access to electricity. With this scenario and having immense potential of hydropower development, it is important for Nepal to increase its energy dependency on electricity with hydropower development. This contributes to deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, and increased flooding downstream in the Ganges plain. Shortage of wood also pushes farmers to burn animal dung, which is needed for agriculture. Not only this, the development of hydropower will help to achieve the millennium development goals with protecting environment, increasing literacy, improving health of children and women with better energy. Growing environmental degradation adds a sense of urgency.

Energy Consumption in Nepal

The electricity demand in Nepal is increasing by about 7-9% per year. About 40 % of population in Nepal has access to electricity through the grid and off grid system. Nepal's Tenth Five Year Plan (2002– 2007) aims to extend the electrification within country and export to India for mutual benefit. The new Hydropower Policy 2001 seeks to promote private sector investment in the sector of hydropower development and aims to expand the electrification within the country and export.

The hydropower system in Nepal is dominated by run-of-river Projects. There is only one seasonal storage project in the system. There is shortage of power during winter and spill during wet season. The load factor is quite low as the majority of the consumption is dominated by household use. This imbalance has clearly shown the need for storage projects, and hence, cooperation between the two neighboring countries is essential for the best use of the hydro resource for mutual benefit.

The system loss is one of the major issues to be addressed to improve the power system which accounts to be 25 % including technical and non-technical losses like pilferage.

Status of Power Generation and Transmission

Nepal has 600 MW of installed capacity in its Integrated Nepal Power System (INPS). The power system is dominated by the hydropower which contributes about 90 % of the system and the balance is met by multi fuel plant. The hydropower development in Nepal began with the development of 500 kW Pharping power plant in 1911. The most recent significant power plant commissioned is the 144-MW Kali Gandaki “A” Hydroelectric Plant.

Transmission Network in Nepal

Until 1990, hydropower development was under the domain of government utility, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) only. However, with the enactment of new Hydropower Development Policy 1992, the sector was opened to the private sector also. There are number of projects already built by the private developers. Private power producers contribute 148 MW of power to the ‘Integrated Nepal Power System'.

The major hydropower plants with their capacity are listed in the table as follows:

Power Plants in Operation

S.N.

Power Plant

Capacity (MW)

Annual Energy (GWh)

Owned by

Type

1

Trishuli

24

292

NEA

ROR

2

Sunkoshi

10

66

NEA

ROR

3

Gandak

15

53

NEA

ROR

4

Kulekhani I

60

164

NEA

STO

5

Devighat

14

13

NEA

ROR

6

Kulekhani II

32

96

NEA

STO

7

Marshyangdi

69

519

NEA

PROR

8

Puwa

6

41

NEA

ROR

9

Modi

15

87

NEA

ROR

10

Kaligandaki

144

791

NEA

PROR

11

Andhikhola

5

38

BPC

ROR

12

Jhimruk

12

81

BPC

ROR

13

Khimti

60

353

HPL

ROR

14

Bhotekoshi

36

246

BKPC

ROR

15

Indrawati

7.5

51

NHPC

ROR

16

Syange

.2

1.2

SHC

ROR

17

Chilime

20

101

CHC

PROR

18

Piluwa

3

18

AVHCO

ROR

19

Sunkoshi

2.6

14.5

SHPC

ROR

20

Chaku Khola

1.5

 

Alliance Power

 

21

Small hydro

12.5

26

NEA

ROR

22

Small hydro (Isolated)

6.4

 

NEA

ROR

23

Microhydro

14.5

 

 

 

 

Total

 =SUM(ABOVE) 568.7

 

 

 

 

There are few hydro plants under construction by NEA and private developers as listed in the Table below:

Power Plants under construction

SN

Power Plant

Capacity (MW)

Owned by

Remarks

1

Middle Marshyangdi

70

NEA

 

3

Gamgad

0.4

NEA

 

4

Heldung

0.5

NEA

 

5

 

 

 

 

6

Rairang

0.5

Rairang HPD

 

7

Upper Modi

14

GITEC

 

8

Khudi

3.5

KHL

 

9

Mailung

5

MPC

 

  Potential for Development

There are about six thousand big and small rivers in three major river basins namely Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali including some southern rivers, and two border rivers, Mechi and Mahakali in Nepal. The basin wise potential for power generation is in the table below:

Basin wise Hydropower potential

River Basin

Capacity on small river courses

Capacity on Major River Courses

Gross Total (GW)

Economic potential (GW)

Sapta Koshi

3.6

18.75

22.35

10.86

Sapta Gandaki

2.7

17.95

20.65

5.27

Karnali and Mahakali

3.5

32.68

36.18

25.1

Southern Rivers

1.04

3.07

4.11

.88

Total

10.84

72.45

83.29

42.14

 

There are many projects which have been identified for development. Some of those identified promising projects for development are in the following table:

Identified potential Hydropower Projects

S.N.

Project

Capacity (MW)

Type

Remarks

1

West Seti

750

Storage

 

2

Arun III

402

PROR

 

3

Budhi Gandaki

600

Storage

 

4

Kali Gandaki II

660

Storage

 

5

Lower Arun

308

PROR

 

6

Upper Arun

335

PROR

 

7

Karnali Chisapani

10800

Storage

 

8

Upper Karnali

300

PROR

 

9

Chamelia

30

ROR

 

10

Pancheswor

6480

Storage

 

11

Thulodhunga

25

ROR

 

12

Tamor/ Mewa

100

PROR

 

13

Dudh Koshi

300

Storage

 

14

Budhi Ganga

20

ROR

 

15

Rahughat Khola

27

ROR

 

16

Likhu 4

51

PROR

 

17

Kabeli A

30

ROR

 

18

Upper Marshyangdi A

121

PROR

 

19

Kulekhani III

45

Storage

Cascade of Kulekhani- I and II

20

Andhikhola (Storage)

180

Storage

 

21

Khimti II

27

ROR

 

22

Upper Modi A

42

ROR

 

23

Langtang Khola (Storage)

218

Storage

 

24

Madi Ishaneswor (Storage)

86

Storage

 

25

Upper Seti (Storage)

122

Storage

 

26

Kankai (Storage)

60

Storage

 

27

Upper Tamakoshi

250

PROR

 


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