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The Lost Opportunity

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During the last 10 years of acute problem of power shortage (loadshedding), which now seems to be a complete hoax, people in Kathmandu Valley collectively have managed to get private “powerhouses” in their homes and offices with combination of hundreds of thousands of inverters, batteries, solar panels, and generators.

As per one of the World Bank Report (2014), private sources in Nepal could generate at least 523 MW that is used during power cuts. Also, in an interview with Himalaya TV on 11 Nov 2016, newly appointed MD of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Mr. Kul Man Ghising revealed that there are at least 3 lakh units of inverter that generally ranges from 100VA to 800VA for household use and 5000VA or above for office purpose. This could, in average, generate up to 90MW of electricity.

In addition, considering the data that 30% of total electricity from the national grid is used in Kathmandu Valley alone (NRB, 2012), and similar proportion of electricity is generated from generators used in industries and businesses, at least 160 MW is generated from diesel generators. Altogether these backup power-generating devices could generate at least 250MW if used all at the same time. However, if Kul Man Ghising’s effort to end the power shortage, hopefully, continues for prolonged period, then these equipments will have no use, eventually. This would mean that the money spent on these gadgets might all go in vain.

The amount that has been spent from private pockets for power backup system is staggeringly high. On top of that, inverters do not produce power by itself but relies on power from the grid anyway. So do the diesel generators. Last year, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) had sold around 9 lakh kiloliters of diesel, out of which 40% was used for power generation (NOC, 2015). This would amount to Rupees 25 Arabs last year alone. This along with previous studies have already proved that power generation from these kinds of sources is costlier than hydropower, which only used around Rupees 1 lakh to produce 1 kilowatt of electricity (Nepal Monitor Journal, 2009).

The point is, if the government had been sensible enough, then at least 20 Chilime hydro-powers, 4 Kulekhanies or 2 Kali Gandakies could have been built, which would have helped a lot to meet the power demands. However, due to ill-intention of the government, from Kathmandu valley alone, this very dear money is going to be lost. What a shame! Ironically, and yet obviously, people are still happy to lose for a greater gain of having uninterrupted 24 hours of power supply.

From financial perspective too, a lot of money have been spent in importing the power-generating devices. The money could have stayed home to provide better opportunity to invest in long term assets. It would have given us dividends, instead of forcing us to invest in assets that would be of no use soon after.

Unfortunately, we cannot travel back in time and fix our misfortunes. Besides all these enquiries, one simple question still persists. What can we do with this unused batteries, photovoltaic panels, inverters and generators? Well, very soon, people will find a way to sell off these devices to the people who need them more in the areas where there still would be a few hours of scheduled power cuts. Otherwise, anyone who already has solar panels could use their batteries as the main power-source, at least to light up their houses if not for other uses, until the batteries are happy to store energy for a couple of years more. This way, people can still help NEA to have more energy to distribute.

Finally, long live Kulman Ghising! Down with the loadshedding!

By:

Bibek Dangol

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 December 2016 23:05 )