Mahat’s claim of 600 MW addition this year unachievable

Bhrikuti Rai / August 24, 2015

Annex 18 of the budget for the fiscal year 2015/2016 unveiled by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat states that the country’s power generation will increase by 600 MW in this fiscal year raising the installed capacity to 1498 MW.

Meeting this target is impossible unless the hydropower projects that are near completion come into operation within this fiscal year. The following are some of those projects nearing completion and their current status:

Project Capacity Scheduled completion date Present status
Chameliya 30 MW 2014/15 Minimal damage by the earthquakes. Expected to complete within this fiscal year.
Kulekhani 3 14 MW 2014/15 Minimal damage by the earthquakes. Expected to complete within this fiscal year.
Upper Trishuli 3A 60 MW 2015/16 Unable start work on site since the earthquakes.
Upper Modi A 42 MW 2015/16 Minimal damage by the earthquakes. Expected to complete within this fiscal year.
Upper Tamakoshi 456 MW 2016/17 Unable to start work on site since the earthquakes.

Source: Annual Progress Report by Ministry of Energy, page 43 and 45; officials of the projects concerned.

Chameliya and Kulekhani-3, which had missed the scheduled completion deadlines earlier, have been expected to come into operation within this fiscal year, according to this year’s budget. Although Upper Tamakoshi’s completion was scheduled after 2016, the budget has expected the project to be complete early — within this fiscal year. Based on these slated completion dates the budget included the 600 MW to be added to the national grid.

However, many of these projects were damaged by the earthquake on 25 April and strong aftershocks that jolted the country. In order to assess the post-earthquake condition of the hydro power projects we talked to officials at the Ministry of Energy and the under construction projects.

Bigyan Prasad Shrestha, head of the Upper Tamakoshi projects says, “Landslides have triggered rock falls on the roads connecting the project site, we think this might push back the project’s completion date by another year.”

Gokarna Pantha of the Department for Electricity Development also says that the damage caused by the earthquakes will make it difficult for some of the under construction projects to see completion within 2015/16. “The 600 MW mentioned in the budget could have been added to the national grid had there been no earthquakes, but now the target seems a bit unrealistic because of the damage caused,” says Pantha.

The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) prepared in June estimates Nepal’s energy sector sustained total loss and damage close to US$ 18 million. It states that several hydropower facilities generating about 115 MW have been severely damaged and facilities with total capacity of 60 MW have suffered partial damage. The country’s total installed capacity of hydropower projects this year has reached 787 MW.

Wrong numbers

When we talked to Pantha of the Department of Electricity Development to inquire about the numerical mismatch we learnt that the prediction of the Ministry of Finance about 600 MW addition was based on the figures worked out before the earthquake.

Therefore, the numbers (based on the pre- earthquake scenario) presented in the budget almost two and half months after the earthquake ended up turn out to be incorrect.

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