KATHMANDU, April 21: When it comes to proper management and timely completion, solar power projects of the country are no better than hydropower projects. The government’s plan to generate 51 MW electricity by harnessing solar power is most likely to be mired in delays and deadline extensions.
As per its energy-mix plan, Nepal Electricity Authority had issued licenses this fiscal year to 10 developers for generating solar energy, targeting to produce over 51.5 MW electricity by mid-April next year. Going by the poor situation of the projects, it is not likely that they will generate power as planned.
Officials of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), buyer of the solar electricity to be produced, say that they have not received any progress report from those developers, though only a year remains for them to complete the projects and start generating power.
“We are giving attractive prices to those developers but they are not doing anything to produce electricity as promised,” said Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson of the NEA. Adhikari said that so far only Belchautara Solar Project of Tanahu district has reported some progress in its power plant of 5 MW.
“Failure to generate power by the given date may lead to termination of the license and confiscation of the bank guarantee,” Adhikari said.
Government’s energy-mix plan states that at least 15 percent of total installed capacity of renewable energy should be other than hydropower.
Api Power Company Limited has got licenses for four solar power plants out of the total 10. Chairman of the company Guru Neupane said: “Although we had arranged land for the project, we could not make progress because the government did not provide us any incentive like customs tax waiver and VAT waiver like they give to hydropower plants.”
The customs tax for the equipment and machineries for any hydropower is only 1 percent and there is zero value added tax. Solar power developers are demanding similar tax waivers. The country has so far only 1.64 MW of solar electricity connected to the national grid. Kathmandu Upatayaka Khanepani Limited is generating 680.4 KW while Surya Power Company Limited in Nawalparasi is generating 960 KW.