With no winter rainfall for the last five months and water levels decreasing in rivers, the power generation in the country has fallen by more than 40 percent. While around 400 MW of electricity has been added to the national grid in the last one year, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has been struggling to supply adequate electricity this winter.
The installed capacity of electricity in the country last winter was 2053 MW which increased to 2424 MW by mid-January this year. “However, due to the prolonged dry season and decrease in water level in the rivers, electricity generation has plunged more than last winter,” said Suresh Bhattarai, a spokesperson of NEA.
According to NEA, the power production during this winter has dropped to around 900 MW, that too during the evening peak time. NEA data shows domestic electricity generation was 926 MW during the peak hours on Sunday. As hydropower projects such as Kulekhani, Upper Tamakoshi, and Kaligandaki are put into operation during peak hours, the electricity generation is higher during those times. The average generation currently stands at around 700 MW, according to NEA.
“The installed capacity has increased this year but the water flow in the river has decreased as the dry season has extended,” said Bhattarai. “As a result, power generation has decreased compared to last year.”
According to the NEA, power generation, this winter has decreased more compared to the last winter because of the drought situation. The power generation during the last winter was around 1,200 MW, which has further dropped to around 900 MW this winter during the peak time.
Nepal’s largest power project- the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project (456 MW), is currently producing around 77MW of electricity while the average production of the Middle Marsyangdi Hydropower Project (70 MW) is above 30 MW.
According to Bhattarai, NEA is balancing the power supply by importing more electricity from India. Despite that, NEA is forced to cut power in the industrial areas during peak hours in the morning and evening.
NEA has been enforcing load shedding of three hours each in the peak hours of morning and evening in the industrial areas across the country. According to industrialists, such power cuts have been happening now from 6-9 am in the morning and 5-8 pm in the evening. Industries in major industrial hubs such as Biratnagar, Birgunj, Hetauda, and Bhairahawa have been hard hit by the latest power cuts.
Although Nepal has started exporting surplus electricity to India during the wet season, the country has to import electricity in the dry season to meet the power demand. It is because almost all of the power production in the country is based on run-of-the-river hydropower plants.
The dry season runs from December to April while the wet season lasts from May to November. According to NEA, the run-of-the-river type hydropower projects usually produce less than 40 percent of their installed capacity as water levels in the rivers decrease significantly during the dry season.
With power generation not enough to cater to the domestic demand, the NEA has increased the volume of electricity imports from India. A total of 505 MW of electricity was imported from India during peak hours last Sunday evening.