Nepal seeks to improve power network for 25 MW of grid-connected solar

Nepal’s energy regulator is seeking consultants for the implementation of a project supported by the World Bank, which aims at improving the power losses of its electricity network and creating the conditions for the installation of 25 MW of solar capacity.

The $130 million project, named Nepal Grid Solar and Energy Efficiency Project, is divided into two parts. The first part includes development and construction of 25 MW of solar power plants to supply electricity directly to the NEA distribution network, while a second component comprises the preparation of a Distribution Loss Reduction Master Plan and implementation of pilot loss reduction projects in selected distribution centers of NEA.

Interested consultancy companies must submit their bids by June 5.

Nepal received $20 million for its viability gap funding in solar energy from Strategic Climate Fund — the multi-donor climate investment fund — administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in late 2016. Nepal’s government said it would use the funds to support the construction of utility-scale solar projects across the country.

“The funding,” said ADB at the time, “should ensure installation of at least 25 MW of solar power by 2018, but more importantly, it will provide a business model that can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in the energy-strapped South Asian nation”.

Bidding for these projects, ADB said in December 2016, was expected to start in the first quarter of 2017 and last from 6 to 12 months.

Nepal is currently suffering from chronic power shortages. Only 65% of the country’s population has access to electricity. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that the country has the potential for 2.1 GW of installed PV capacity. Although the NEA is officially available to buy solar power under long-term PPA since July 2014, only large-scale hydropower projects have been granted these kinds of contract to date.