The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project is expected to start production by the end of the fiscal year in July, and put Nepal one step closer to ending the perennial power crisis and achieving its goal to become a net exporter of electricity.
The first unit of the 456 MW project, which will come online initially, is likely to churn out 76 MW. The other five units will start generating electricity within five months of the first unit being switched on and add 456 MW to the national grid.
The energy will be transmitted to a substation at Khimti via the 220 kV Gongar-Khimti transmission line which is currently under construction. The power evacuated to the Khimti substation will be transmitted to Kathmandu Valley and other energy-hungry neighbouring cities.
After the Upper Tamakoshi roars into life, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will be in a position to export electricity to neighbouring India. The state-owned power utility is one of the promoters of the project.
During the wet season, surplus energy can be transmitted over the Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line to the Dhalkebar substation and on to the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line for export to India. According to the project office, 92 percent of the construction work at the hydropower plant has been completed, and it expects to achieve a major breakthrough within a couple of weeks by completing the excavation of the headrace tunnel.
“We have to dig around 99 metres more to complete the headrace tunnel, and we will complete it before the first phase of elections slated to be held on November 26,” said Ganesh Neupane, spokesperson for the project.
Likewise, the Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project has been expediting the construction of the 47-km Gongar-Khimti transmission line which will be used to evacuate the electricity generated by the plant.
“We have erected 96 out of the 127 towers that need to be installed for the transmission line, and have laid the foundation of 22 other towers,” said Neupane. “We plan to complete the construction of the transmission line before the monsoon.”
The national pride project was originally scheduled to be completed in mid-July 2016, but the earthquake, Indian trade blockade and various technical and social issues pushed back the completion date. Before the earthquake hit the country, the project had completed 79 percent of the civil works. It faced cost overruns due to the delays. The project is now expected to cost Rs42 billion, up from the previous estimate of Rs35.3 billion.
Nevertheless, the project is considered to be a role model project which is being developed with domestic resources and the significant participation of project-affected locals and the general public.
The project is preparing to float shares to the public, including locals in the project-affected areas, in December. It plans to issue 25 percent of the shares worth Rs2.64 billion at an initial public offering (IPO) and wrap up the share distribution process by March 2018.
From The Kathmandu Post