Increasing risk in hydropower projects as water level decreases «

Increasing risk in hydropower projects as water level decreases

The 500-kilowatt Farping Hydropower Project, built 110 years ago, does not generate electricity now. The production of the project has been stopped since 2038 BS after the Pharping water was brought to Kathmandu due to shortage of drinking water in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. According to Madan Timalsina, Deputy Executive Director of Nepal Electricity Authority’s Production Directorate, the project has stopped production due to the growing settlements in Kathmandu and drying up of rivers used for hydropower projects.

According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, the project, which started in 1964 BS after the return of the then Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher from the UK, was inaugurated on June 26, 1968 BS. The project is the first in the history of hydropower in Nepal but the power house is not in operation at present.

Nepal’s largest 144 MW Kaligandaki Hydropower Project, which was completed in 2056 BS, had generated 95726 MWh in the fiscal year 2075/76, but it decreased to 86998 MWh in the fiscal year 2076/77. Designed for 92595 MW hours, the target of the project was 92429 MW hours in 2076-07. Similarly, the 60 MW Trishuli A project constructed by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) was designed to generate 489,760 MWh annually in the fiscal year 2076/77 BS but produced 40,7551 MWh. Kulekhani I, Nepal’s first reservoir project completed in 2039 BS, had generated 60 MW up to 249680 MWh in 2055/56 BS but dropped to 173785 MWh in 2061/62 BS and 911184 MW in 2074/75 BS, according to NEA data. Despite the target of generating 184,200 megawatt-hours annually from the 30-megawatt Chamelia completed three years ago, only 160,811 megawatt-hours have been generated in the fiscal year 2076/77. The 14.1 MW Devighat Hydropower Project, which was completed in 1984, was constructed to generate 113,000 MW hours but now the production is only 92,053 MW hours.

The 1.65 MW Thopal Khola Hydropower Project, which was completed in 2064 BS, was supposed to generate at least 500 kilowatts in winter, but when it reached the Siddhalekh village power house in Dhading last year, the total generation was only 280 kilowatts. “In 2064 BS, it was only 500 kilowatts but now the water level has come down to 280 kilowatts,” said Badri Silwal, acting manager of the power house. “The water level in the upper source has also decreased. Climate change has also dried up the water, saying the water level is much lower than before. ”The Thopalkhola Hydropower Project cut electricity generation by only 40.34 percent from the energy agreed last year. For this reason, on the one hand, he lost his income and on the other hand, he had to pay a fine of Rs 4 lakh. 28 million investments in the project will be completed and the installment of a regular bank loan to repay the names to risk has occurred.

The report of the committee formed to study the problems of not only Thopal Khola Hydropower Project but also the financially troubled hydropower projects run by the private sector by the Ministry of Energy has shown that out of 93 projects, 35 projects with less than 10 MW capacity are in financial crisis. Of these, two 8.52 MW projects have not been able to pay the bank interest on time but 23 projects of 81.95 MW have not been able to pay both Sava and interest regularly. Out of 23 projects, 7 projects have been included in the bank’s threat list. The report shows that due to hydrology (reduction of water flow in the river), the annual power generation has decreased from 9.3 percent to 56 percent. The projects should be repaid within 10 to 12 years by paying interest, but now these projects are in big trouble as the water in the river is drying up.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has made an arrangement to declare availability of up to 90 percent or up to 10 percent when projecting energy production in projects below 10 MW each month and if it produces less than 90 percent or 80 percent, it will impose a penalty equal to less production energy. As the water level is declining, private sector investors have been given a 50 percent discount by the Electricity Authority as per the Energy Crisis Action Plan brought by the Ministry of Energy in 2072 BS. At present, fines are paid only after producing less than 40 percent, but more than one-third of the projects built by the private sector are still in crisis. Krishna Acharya, chairman of the Independent Power Producers’ Association (IPPAN), said that the consultants had determined the capacity based on the data provided by the Department of Water and Meteorology during the feasibility study. “Climate change is having an impact on hydropower projects. Investors are facing huge losses by paying fines due to declining water levels,” he said. “Based on the data provided by the department, the revenue was not calculated incorrectly.”

When the government issues hydropower licenses and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) concludes power purchase agreements (PPAs), it finalizes the energy table, which tests whether electricity can be generated or not. According to Surya Adhikari, a member of the committee formed to study the problem of the crisis-ridden hydropower project, the promoters of the project have to pay fines for low power generation. “Lately, the use of water in drinking water, irrigation, sanitation, industry and other sectors has increased. It has also reduced the water level. On the other hand, global warming has also increased. This has hit private sector investors hard,” he said.

Hitendra Dev Shakya, executive director of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), admits that the water level is declining due to the Himal turning black every year and the drying up of water sources in the Mahabharat and Chure areas. “The snow in the mountains is getting darker and blacker every year. The water sources in the hilly areas are drying up. It may be due to climate change. The water level is falling. The water level in Mansu is rising.” There is no alternative but to make the project as big as possible. ”

The Executive Director of the Electricity Authority said that emphasis should be laid on reservoir projects but the condition of reservoir projects is deplorable. Out of the total installed capacity of 1360 MW, Kulekhani I, II and III are generating only 106 MW from reservoir projects and out of 3,000 MW under construction, only 140 MW Tanahu Hydro is currently under construction, according to NEA.

With the change in the weather, there has been a situation of more rain in a short time. Figures from the Department of Water and Meteorology also show that last year’s rainfall was 10 percent higher than in the previous year. According to the data from 19 June to 11 September, the average rainfall was 1412.7 milliliters, which is about 1642 milliliters. The rainfall is 229.4 mm more than the current rate. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, 250.9 mm of rain fell in Pokhara on the same day from the morning of July 10 to the morning of July 10.

  As the snow melts due to rising temperatures, the water level in the glacial lakes is rising. For this reason, on the one hand, there is a danger of the lake bursting and on the other, the danger is increasing even in the projects under construction and completed. It has also alerted Nepal after hydropower projects were damaged due to an avalanche in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India in February. Various studies have shown that there are 2770 glacial lakes in Nepal and the number of glacial lakes has been increasing with the melting of snow in recent times. Although there is no detailed study, various studies based on river basin have shown great possibility of ice lake eruption in Koshi, Karnali, Tamor, Kaligandaki, Arun, Trishuli and other rivers of Nepal. As most of the hydropower projects fall in this area, those hydropower projects are also at high risk.

Although there is no study in Nepal, the temperature has risen by 0.05 percent at the regional level. The Meteorological Department has taken steps to reduce the level of the lake as the risk of eruption of the lake increases with the rise in temperature. “Levels of Imja-3 and Chhorolpa have been reduced by 3 meters. Studies are being done to reduce the levels of lakes including Thulagi, Lower Varun, Lumding and Hongu,” said Kamal Ram Joshi, deputy director general of the department. According to him, deforestation, unplanned development in hilly areas along with natural causes, population growth and cultivation of slopes and grasslands on the slopes, increasing urbanization, uncontrolled exploitation of riverine materials and sand in the Churebhavar area are also affected. The water level has also decreased due to the problem.

According to the Ministry of Forests and Environment, 1.9 million people are at high risk of climate change. Nepal emits 0.027 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, while water and weather alone account for more than 85 percent of natural disasters in Nepal. The government has also given importance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the nation. The government has brought a national climate change policy on climate change and has also formulated a national adaptation plan for 2019 BS. According to the ministry, about 5 percent of the budget has been allocated for climate change adaptation, while the size of the budget related to climate change is more than 30 percent. But on the one hand, there is a possibility of huge damage to the hydropower projects due to the flood of ice lake eruption along with melting of snow, on the other hand, due to excessive rainfall at the same time, the design of hydropower projects with potential production capacity is unsustainable.

Although the government has not come up with a program to address the impact of climate change on hydropower projects, Nepal has not done so even though it needs to analyze its climate impact not only in the river basin but also in neighboring countries including India and China. But Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Secretary Dinesh Ghimire says the ministry has moved forward to use adaptation tools. “To address the problem of rising temperatures and declining rainfall, we need to develop an adaptation plan. Climate change is targeted at the initial stage of design, and we are working to minimize its impact on projects under construction and under construction.”

Nepal emits only 0.027 percent of its green gas, while the rest comes from developed and developing countries. Neighboring China has a 28 per cent share while India has a 6.55 per cent share. Nepal is not the main cause of the effects of climate change, but Nepal is at high risk. Nepal can advocate for its reduction and reduction in the world. Climate expert batukrishna Upreti says that Nepal is not the main cause of climate change, so even though Nepal does not have the capacity to end it, it can reduce it, but he has the experience that there is not much effort for it. “We are not trying to stop the mountains from melting, the black stone is growing but we can use the support, we have to have the capacity to cope,” he said. We don’t even have the ability to lobby them because they are suffering. We have reached this stage due to lack of research and data. ‘

With 6,000 rivers, Nepal has the capacity to generate 83,000 MW of hydropower. Various studies have shown that maximum use of water can generate up to 200,000 MW, but the production has not exceeded 2,000 MW. Nepal has a dream to become rich by generating hydropower for domestic consumption and selling it abroad. On the one hand, this is reducing our power generation capacity, while on the other hand, the high risk is increasing in the projects under construction and under construction.

(Supported by media skills development programme of Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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