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Hydroelectricity in Nepal | Hydropower Projects in Nepal

Hydropower projects in Nepal

Hydroelectricity in Nepal | Hydropower Projects in Nepal

There are more than 6000 rivers with a total reach length of 45000 km flowing in our country. They occupy about 3.9 % of the total land of Nepal. The snowy mountains & glacier lakes are also our major water resources. This makes Nepal to be the second richest country in water resources after Brazil in the world. Nepal contains 2.27% water of the total water resource in the world. Due to such resources, we have a huge potential of hydropower production which is theoretically found to be 83000 MW. Out of this, 42000 MW of hydroelectricity is feasible economically & technically.

Hydropower in Nepal

Traditionally, a vertical axis water wheel called ‘Pani Ghatta’ was found to be operated using the river water current in Nepal. The Pharping hydropower plant (500 KW)  had been established as the first hydropower in Nepal in 1911 AD by PM Chandra Shamsher. It was also the second hydropower plant in Asia. It was established with a grant from British Government. Nowadays, it is not being operated for generation & the water from penstock has been diverted to drinking water supply to Kathmandu by KUKL. Although, it has been placed in standby mode to operate occasionally & to demonstrate to the visitors. The second hydropower plant of Nepal was Sundarijal Hydropower Plant of capacity 640 KW. It is still operating in regular mode & the tail water has been diverted for drinking water supply to Kathmandu valley. Thereafter, different hydropower projects have been established in Nepal contributing to the total installed capacity of the country. Out of total installed capacity of 1355 MW, hydroelectricity serves 1233 MW, thermal plant serves 54 MW & 68 MW has been generated from alternative energy resources. (Economic Survey 2076/77). 90% of the population of Nepal is in access to electricity. Nepal has been declared as a load shedding free country in 31 Baishakh, 2075 BS. The budget of FY 2077/78 has allocated 1 Kharba & 5 Arba rupees for the investment in energy sector.

Hydropower can play an important role in the overall economic development of a country. The vast hydropower potential can be the backbone of our national economy & lead us to prosperity. Keeping this in mind, Government of Nepal has adopted Hydropower Development Policy 2058 in order to make proper legislation for development of hydroelectricity in Nepal. The following classification is adopted for hydropower projects in Nepal.

Micro Hydropower Project : upto 100 KW
Mini Hydropower Project : 100 KW to 1000 KW
Small Hydropower Project : 1 MW to 25 MW
Medium Hydropower Project : 25 MW to 100 MW
Large Hydropower Project : greater than 100 MW

Hydropower Projects in Nepal

Most of the hydropower projects in Nepal are owned by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) & some Independent Power Producers (IPPs). NEA has been facilitating the participation of private sectors through Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to ensure meeting the energy demand of the country. Involvement of private sectors in hydropower projects has also been satisfactory. They usually invest under the PPP model. There are several ongoing hydropower projects to be completed in the next couple of years. Most of the existing hydropower in Nepal are of run of river type. So, there seems to be a need for storage & pumped storage types of projects that can contribute to the peak hour demand. Here I’m going to talk about some of the hydropower projects that are pronounced frequently.

Kaligandaki ‘A’ Hydropower Project

It is located 500m away from the confluence of Aadhikola & Kaligandaki river in Syangja district. It is the biggest hydropower project operating in our country till date with a total installed capacity of 144 MW. The funding was done with the common efforts of the Government of Nepal, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) & Japanese Government. The commercial generation from this hydropower was started from 2002 AD. It is a six hour daily peak run of river type power station having an annual design generation of 842 GWh.

Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project

Upper Tamakoshi hydropower, located at Dolakha district, is one of the national pride projects of Nepal whose construction was started in 2008 AD. It is still under construction & has a generation capacity of 456 MW.

Bheri Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project

This multipurpose national pride project aims to deliver year round irrigation facilities to the cultivable land of Bardiya & Banke district along with generation of 5.48 MW electricity as an additional aim of the project.

Khimti Hydropower Project

Khimti hydropower project, located at the Dolakha district, is the first & biggest hydropower project developed by the private sector in Nepal. It has a total generation capacity of 60 MW & was developed by Himal Power Ltd.

Arun III Hydropower Project

The Arun III hydropower project is being developed on Arun river of Sankhuwasabha district & is expected to have a generation capacity of 900 MW. A power development agreement (PDA) was signed with Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) for the execution of the project. SJVN will operate the project for the concession period & then ownership will be transferred to the Government of Nepal. During the concession period, Nepal will get free power as a result of PDA.

Upper Karnali

Upper Karnali hydropower is a export oriented hydroelectricity project to be developed by Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao (GMR) group which is an Indian company headquartered at New Delhi. Out of 900 MW power generated by GMR from Upper Karnali, they will export 500 MW power to Bangladesh where as Nepal gets 108 MW of free energy & rest of the power will be utilized in India.

Upper Trishuli 3A

Operation of Upper Trishuli 3A project has been inaugurated by Rt. Honorable Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on 18th November 2019. 60 MW power from Upper Trishuli 3A project was successfully added to the grid in fiscal year 2076/77. It is located in Rasuwa & Nuwakot districts.

Kulekhani III

Kulekhani III is another major project that has started generation in fiscal year 2076/77. Its first & second unit started generation as test operation from 15th Ashoj 2076 & 24 Ashoj 2076 respectively. The project is located southwest of Kathmandu in Makawanpur district of Narayani zone & Bagmati Province.

Top 50 Hydropower Projects of Nepal

Here is a list of the biggest 50 hydropower projects based on installed capacity. It is an updated list of hydropower projects extracted from annual book of NEA released on Bhadra 1, 2077 on the occasion of 35th anniversary of Nepal Electricity Authority.

Top 10 Hydropower Projects Under Private Sectors of Nepal

Here is a list of biggest 10 hydropower projects developed by private sectors.


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