April 20: The Department of Electricity Development (DOED) has so far issued permits for the development of 17 solar plants. It has given permission to construct 17 solar plants with the capacity to produce 110.47 MW of energy.
The department had given approval for the construction of Butwal Solar Plant in 2019. Rihi Hydropower Company was the first to receive the permission from the department to set up Butwal Solar Plant in the country. Since then, other 16 solar plants have received permits for the construction.
Among the recipients of the permits, majority of the companies are privately owned. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had got the permit to build three solar plants with a capacity to produce 14.77 MW of energy each. Besides the NEA, all others are private companies. NEA is building 25 MW of solar plant in Nuwakot.
Though 17 solar projects have got a green signal to start the construction from the department, only three solar plants have come into operation so far. The 10MW Mithila Solar Plant, 8.5 MW Butwal Solar Plant and 11 MW Solar Plant of NEA are currently in operation. Meanwhile, a 0.68 MW plant of Kathmandu Valley Drinking Water Limited and 1MW plant of Surya Power Company in Nawalparasi are also already in operation.
Chandranighapur Surya Project with the capacity of 4MW built by API Power Company will come online within this month. Electricity generated from this project will be connected to NEA’s 33KV transmission line.
Nabin Raj Singh, Director General of DOED, said the solar plant license is valid for 25 years. After that, the plant’s ownership is shifted to the government. He said lately, energy entrepreneurs are attracted to solar energy. It is cheaper to construct solar plant than hydropower plants while the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) rate is also high.
However the challenge in the construction of solar plants. They can’t be built anywhere and the land rent is quite high. On top of that, access to transmission line is not available everywhere. Yet, attraction towards solar plants is encouraging.