Building Nepal-China power line will take time

“Besides funding modality, a fresh Detailed Project Report and Environment Impact Assessment should also be conducted, which may take around 3-4 years,” said chief of transmission directorate at the Nepal Electricity Authority.

Prithvi Man Shrestha

Prithvi Man Shrestha

The Kathmandu Post


File photo of power lines. PHOTO: THE KATHMANDU POST

September 28, 2023

KATHMANDU – There is a long way to go before the construction of the proposed Nepal-China cross-border transmission line begins, even though the two countries have agreed to build one through Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point, a senior official of the Nepal Electricity Authority said.

During Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s ongoing visit to the northern neighbour, the two countries agreed to launch the construction of the Jilong/Kerung-Rasuwagadhi-Chilime 220 kV transmission line at an early date, according to a joint statement issued after delegation levels talks between Prime Minister Dahal and his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang.

It would be the first-ever cross-border power line between the two neighbours even though Nepal has a dozen such power lines with its southern neighbour—India. Nepali officials say that the cross-border power line with India would open the door to cross-border power trade with China too.

“Even though the agreement was reached, there is still no clarity on how it will be built and what would be the funding modality,” said Dirghayu Kumar Shrestha, chief of transmission directorate at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

However, Nepal officials earlier told the Post that they expected China to fund the project as only a 16-km section needs to be built on the Nepal side. The nearest substation of China is around 80km from the border, an NEA official had told the Post earlier.

“Besides funding modality, a fresh Detailed Project Report (DPR) and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) should also be conducted, which may take around 3-4 years,” said Shrestha.

Earlier, Nepal had proposed building a 400kV Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung Cross-Border Transmission Line for electricity trade with China.

The NEA has already conducted a feasibility study for the project, whose proposed length is around 70km and can carry 5,000MW power, according to the Nepal Electricity Authority.

During the meeting of the Joint Working Group comprising representatives of the NEA and the State Grid Corporation of China in February, the Chinese side had called for reducing the capacity of the power line to 220kV.

Nepal is building a 220kV substation at Chilime Hub, about 16km inward from the border point while China is also distributing power in its bordering areas with a 220kV line, an NEA official earlier told the Post. The official said that the Chinese side wanted to build a low capacity power line first so that the project could be developed as early as possible.

Even though Nepal agreed to the Chinese proposal to build a 220kV cross border power line, officials insisted that a high capacity transmission line will be required for large-scale trading of power in the future.

“That’s why, there has been discussion on constructing multi circuit transmission pylons along the alignment of the 220KV line so that the same pylons can be used to upgrade the capacity of the transmission line in the future,” said Shrestha.

And, there is already a proposed 400kV transmission line designed to carry up to 5,000MW, according to NEA.

The NEA in its annual report 2021-22 has stated that the 400kV transmission line from Ratmate in Nepal to Kerung in China would facilitate power trade between Nepal and China in the years to come.

Because of some new conditions imposed by India, Nepal cannot export power from hydropower projects with Chinese elements, such as investors or contractors. NEA officials say that the cross-border power line between Nepal and China would be vital in attracting Chinese investments to Nepal’s hydropower sector with the aim of selling power to China.

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