July 21, 2024, Sunday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

All households will get access to electricity within 2 years, claims NEA

The Nepal Weekly
August 22, 2023

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), on its 37th anniversary announced its plan to achieve access of electricity to 100 percent households within the next two years. That will be ahead of the target year of 2030 set by the Sustainable Development Goal 7.

SDG Coal No. 7 is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015. It mentions that to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

By the year 2020/21, electricity reached 89 percent of the total population. By the year 2022/23, electricity has reached 95 percent of the total population’s households through the NEA’s central transmission system. Electricity service has reached 3 percent of households through micro hydropower and solar photo voltaic systems. Based on this, it is said that electricity service has been now available to 98 percent of population of the country.

NEA which is government owned and the only electricity service provider says that Madhesh, Bagmati, and Gandaki provinces have basically been completely electrified. 95 percent electrification has been done in Koshi Province, 98 percent in Lumbini Province, 67 percent in Karnali Province, and 82 percent in Sudurpaschim Province.

Out of 753 local levels, 505 local levels have basically been fully electrified through the NEA’s system. Similarly, electricity has reached most of the 227 local level places. Most of the 21 local level places have been electrified through solar and small and micro hydroelectricity.

In the year 2021/22, there were 47.7 million electricity customers. This number increased by 7.76 percent in the year 2022/23 and reached 51.3 million. With around 550,000 consumers who get electricity through community electrification networks, the number of people using electricity from the national grid has reached 5,640,000.

In the year 2015/16, annual energy consumption per capita was 150 units. In the year 2018/19, the annual energy consumption per capita was 245 units. It is significantly increased in the year 2079-080 reaching the annual energy consumption per capita 380 units. That means the per capita electricity has been doubled. Nepal Government has target of per capita electricity consumption of 700 units within 5 years and 1500 units within 10 years. This was mentioned in White Paper of the energy sector issued by the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation on 2018 May 9.

The power utility informs that it constructed 455 circuit kilometres of transmission lines of 66 kV and above in the last fiscal year. With this addition, Nepal now has 5,329 circuit kilometres of transmission lines.

Likewise, electricity leakage has been reduced. It was 25.78 percent six years ago. The power utility said it has been able to plug the leakage to 15.38 percent in the last fiscal year.

By the end of the fiscal year (FY) 2022/23, a total of 2,684 MW of electricity has been connected to the national grid from various hydropower and solar projects. It also has a significant share of electricity generated by the private sector. The private sector’s engaged in hydropower generation contributes amounts to 1,545 MW, with 661 MW from NEA projects and 478 MW from NEA subsidiary companies.

In the dry season, NEA has been importing electricity from India. During the dry season of the last year, when the water level in the rivers of Nepal decreased, NEA imported electricity worth 1.83 billion units, that is Rs 19.44 billion, from India. That amount is almost double to the amount NEA received by exporting electricity to India.

NEA Although NEA claims an extensive achievement in electricity generation, distribution and even making hydropower as an export commodity, it has not been able to supply consistent and quality electricity. Due to the lack of quality transmission and distribution lines.

Moreover, managing electricity supply in the domestic market in the dry season is always a big challenge to NEA as the hydropower plants which run as much as water flows in the river go decrease to generate electricity up to a 30 percent of their installed capacity. Kulekhani is the only storage type of hydropower plant having electricity generation plants in three cascading system and PROR hydropower plants store water of the river for hours and generate electricity at the peak demand hours. However, electricity generated by existing storage and PROR plants are not capable enough to complement the demand in the dry season. That is the reason that the country needs storage and PROR plants, and also energy storage battery backups to address the gap.

Importantly, all the NEA customers who have been accessed to electricity service through national grid or alternative technologies can do all electricity based works at their residences as the service provided lacks consistency and quality. That means 98 percent of population means electricity available for mainly lighting. Due to technical gaps, a large portion of them cannot cook in electricity and cannot utilise electricity for modern facilities.

As lighting cooking, heating and cooling are the most essential facilities to should be electrified, NEA will have to upgrade technical aspects that make the real sense of electrification to almost 100 percent population. That status will definitely contribute to climate change actions, conserve environment, enhance public health, minimise consumption of fossil fuel and support to economic development. (By Purna N. Ranjitkar)