Nepal to propose two new cross-border transmission lines with IndiaThe two countries are scheduled to hold bilateral meetings on energy in late February.
Prithvi Man Shrestha
Nepal will propose developing two new Nepal-India cross-border transmission lines during the upcoming high-level meetings on energy between the two neighbours.
As hydropower production has been growing in the country amid limited consumption, Nepal must sell more power to India to avoid spillage. For this, reliable infrastructure for cross-border transmission of power is necessary, officials say.
Nepal plans to discuss constructing two new high capacity cross-border transmission lines during the meetings of the joint secretary-level Joint Working Group and the secretary-level Joint Steering Committee, both scheduled to be held in India in late February.
“On our agenda are two additional cross border power lines—400kV transmission line connecting Inaruwa (Duhabi) of Nepal and Purnia of Bihar, India and 400kV New Lamki (Dodhara)-Bareli Cross Border Transmission,” said Madhu Bhetuwal, joint secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation. “Considering the likely increase in power production in coming years, we will not be able to consume it all domestically, and so we need more cross border power lines to export more power.”
According to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), there has been limited progress in carrying out studies on these two projects.
“The task of preparing a detailed design for the Duhabi-Purnia transmission line has been completed, but financing modality has yet to be finalised,” said Kulman Ghising, the NEA executive director, in a recent interview with the Post. There has been preparation for a comprehensive design of the New Lamki (Dodohara)-Bareli Cross Border Transmission Line project too, according to the NEA.
During the wet season in 2022, Nepal suffered spillage of power as domestic consumption slumped while India permitted limited power export.
As per an article by Prabal Adhikari, power trade director of the NEA, published in the Post in May last year, an estimated 706.8MW is expected to be added to the national grid in the current fiscal 2022-23 while 706.8MW expected to be added in the next fiscal year 2023-24.
Likewise, 551.1MW is expected to be added in 2024-25, 787.2MW in 2025-26, and 976.7MW in 2026-27, according to Adhikari.
Officials say all these potential additions cannot be consumed within the country and transmission infrastructure is essential to ensure their sales in the Indian market and beyond.
According to Bhetual, the two sides will also discuss upgrading the existing low voltage cross-border lines. There are a dozen cross-border transmission lines between Nepal and India of 33kV, 132kV and 400kV capacities, according to the Ministry of Energy.
Only the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur Cross Border Transmission Line has 400kv capacity, which can transport around 1,000MW. Other 11 cross-border transmission lines can transport between 5MW and 125MW only, according to a white paper on energy issued by the ministry in May 2018.
“Even when the country faces a power outage because of unforeseen circumstances in the future, we need more high capacity transmission lines to ensure reliable power supply in the country,” said Bhetuwal.
There has been progress in construction of the New Butwal-Gorakhpur Transmission Line, which will be able to supply up to 3,500MW.
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Nepal, a special purpose vehicle established by the government to implement the MCC Compact projects, will build an 18 kilometres section from the New Butwal substation to the Nepal-India border under the New Butwal-Gorakhpur Transmission Line Project.
The MCA Nepal has already invited tenders from contractors for the purpose. To build this transmission line in the Indian territory, the NEA and the Power Grid Corporation of India have set up a joint venture company there.
Moreover, in order to export the electricity produced by the Arun III Hydropower Project, which is being developed by the Indian business SJVN Limited, a separate cross-border transmission line is also being built between India and Nepal.
The NEA sold electricity worth Rs11.16 billion to India beginning June last year until it stopped the exports in the third week of December owing to a decline in production at the onset of winter. All the electricity sold to India was transmitted through the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur Transmission Line. India currently permits Nepal to sell 452.6MW of power generated by eight hydropower projects in India’s energy markets.
NEA has set a target of selling power worth Rs16 billion in the current fiscal year 2022/23 after resuming export in June next year. In the last Joint Steering Committee meeting held in February last year, India agreed to increase the volume of power to be exported through Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur power line once the 400kV Hetauda-Dhalkebar-Inaruwa Transmission Line was completed in 2023.