Wednesday, 19 May, 2021

Hopes With Hydropower

Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower project, the long-awaited national priority project, is finally poised for electricity generation by mid-May, according to recent news published in this daily. Perhaps no other news that hit the headlines over last few years has been more cheering than this one. For one thing, the commissioning of the project heralds a new era, signaling that the nation in not only becoming capable enough to produce energy it needs, but also is on the path towards generating surplus amounts of energy. This will solve the long-plaguing problem of load-shedding once and for all. We all are familiar how crippling load-shedding can be to a developing nation like Nepal. Being energy-independent also means we no longer have to be at the mercy of others.

Hydropower is a clean energy. Unlike coal or fossil-fuel-powered power plants, hydropower doesn’t pollute the environment, virtually playing no role in changing climate. Once the project starts generating electricity, the implications are sure to be felt far and wide and across generations. Not only will it breathe new life to the industries that have been kept shut or are on the verge of closing down for lack of power, it will also spur newer ones. No country in the world has ever prospered without exploiting the resources it is bestowed with. For Nepal, one of such resources is hydropower. The country has a long history of hydropower generation, and there are many such small-scale projects across the country. However, the only thing that has kept us from optimally utilising the resource is we have failed to commission large-scale hydropower projects. So, the 456-MW Upper Tamakoshi hydropower project is sure to be a game changer.

After all, power underpins development of every industry -- manufacturing or service. Since the development of hydropower in the country is gaining steam of late, the natural question that arises is: What if we produce surplus of it? Without addressing this question, it’s almost certain that we won’t go far enough. Alongside India, neighbouring Bangladesh has been keen to purchase our electricity. Because of the fast-growing economy of that country, demand of electricity is rising. What’s more, at a time when more and more countries are phasing out or planning to phase out coal-powered plants, the major source of energy worldwide, we have an opportunity to be a leader in producing renewable source of energy.

To transmit power from one place to another, we need transmission lines as conduit. The government should accord needed priority to the construction of transmission lines, for without them we won’t be able to sell electricity. There are instances in the past when the generated power in the country has to be wasted not because of surplus production, but because of lack of transmission lines, costing investors millions of rupees a day. The government should put hydropower on the top list of priority. This can make us energy self-sufficient and save billions being spent on the import of petroleum fuels. This is a pre-requisite for opening the door to development and prosperity.