Austria interested in investing in Dudh Koshi hydro project, say officialsThe reservoir type scheme will produce 3,443 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.
Austria has expressed interest in assisting Nepal technically and financially to build the proposed 635-megawatt Dudh Koshi Storage Hydroelectric Project and 100-megawatt Tamakoshi V, said Energy Ministry officials.
“During the first Energy Mechanism meeting between Nepal and Austria, Austrian officials said they were keen on working together to build the Dudh Koshi and Tamakoshi schemes and help us enhance the technical capacity of the Nepal Electricity Authority,” said Prabin Raj Aryal, spokesperson for the Energy Ministry.
“Although the idea of joint investment is at a nascent stage, we expect the Austrian and Nepali governments to ink a final agreement to that effect in the upcoming months,’ said Aryal.
The Energy Mechanism meeting was held in Kathmandu on Monday, five months after the energy ministers of the two countries signed an accord on technological assistance in hydroelectric infrastructure in Vienna in May.
According to Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun, Austria is the first European country to sign a deal with Nepal on assisting the energy sector, and the ministry expects an exchange of technology and experience through the joint mechanism between the two countries in the near future.
ELC Electro Consult of Italy and NEWJWC Inc of Japan are on the verge of finalising a detailed design and environmental impact assessment for the Dudh Koshi Storage Hydroelectric Project.
The state-owned power utility, which plans to build the plant through a subsidiary company, expects the design and preparatory studies to be concluded by December.
As per the draft final design obtained by the Post, the total cost of the project has been estimated at $1.523 billion excluding taxes and other financial costs.
The updated feasibility study for the Dudh Koshi Storage Hydroelectric Project recommends building a main underground powerhouse near the Sunkoshi River with four units generating 150 megawatts each and a small 35 megawatt hydro unit near the toe of the dam.
The reservoir type project will produce 3,443 gigawatt hours per year, higher than the expected annual output of 3,383 gigawatt hours of the proposed Budhi Gandaki scheme. The snowmelt-fed Dudh Koshi River originates in the foothills of Everest, allowing the plant to perform efficiently even in the dry season.
According to Nepal Electricity Authority Managing Director Kulman Ghising, the development and social costs of the Dudh Koshi Storage Hydroelectric Project are reasonable compared to other proposed storage projects, and the scheme is a viable candidate for financing by the government and international institutions.
“Its sound economic performance, as a possible storage hydropower project candidate, is dramatically strengthened by the negligible social impact, limited to a few tens of households,” states the report. “No potentially insurmountable impacts were identified which would necessitate a fundamental alteration of the proposed project design parameters.”
The report shows that the social impact of the Dudh Koshi scheme will be less as only 162 households will be severely impacted while 1,150 households will be partially affected.