On the eve of World Environment Day on 5 June, the Nepal government utility inaugurated the first phase of its first 25MW solar array that will feed electricity directly into the national grid.
Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) launched its largest solar power project on Thursday by commencing operations amid calls for the government to renew its commitment to renewable energy.
Devighat Electric Project in Nuwakot added 1.25MW to the national grid, its total output after completion to reach 25MW. Of this, 10MW will be produced within the next month and half, NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising said.
The lockdown scuppered an initial goal of producing 15MW and elays over design and creating space for panels had already taken the project beyond its initial completion date of mid-April 2019.
The project employs solar panels without storage batteries, meaning electricity produced is fed directly into the grid when sunlight is available. A 33 kilovolt substation is in operation, with another 66 kilovolt substation hit by production delays.
Upon completion, the project is expected to reduce power outages in winter seasons when hydropower potential is reduced. Furthermore, its proximity to Kathmandu Valley is expected to increase the reliability of the power supply system to the capital, and reduce system loss.
The project is also expected to reduce the load on hydropower projects. By running in the afternoon, it allows the accumulation of water in reservoirs such as Kulekhani and semi-reservoirs such as Kaligandaki A, Middle Marsyangdi and Chilime. The increased reserves can then be diverted to electricity production at peak hours during the morning and night.
Devighat Energy Project is part of the World Bank’s Grid Solar and Energy Efficiency Project and was built on a $38 million contract by Chinese firm Risen Energy. Under the terms of the contract, the firm is responsible for the maintenance of the project for five years, after which it will be handed over to the NEA. However, the firm also has to supply 33 million units of guaranteed energy as part of the agreement.