Nepal power glut with COVID-19 shutdown

Nepal’s demand for electricity has decreased dramatically since the country went into lockdown on 24 March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nepal Electricity Authority said that power consumption has fallen significantly following the shutdown of factories, hotels, and businesses. NEA has therefore stopped electricity imports from India.

The peak demand for electricity, which averaged 1,200 megawatts before the lockdown, had dropped to 945 megawatts on Tuesday evening. The demand further slipped to 446 megawatts on Wednesday morning, climbing back up to 628 megawatts on Wednesday afternoon.

Kathmandu Valley, where electricity consumption is the highest, saw peak demand decrease to 290 megawatts on Tuesday evening from a normal average of 350 megawatts. On Wednesday afternoon, the peak demand stood at 182 megawatts.

The amount of electricity imported from India has also decreased due to the fall in the demand, even though  Kulekhani has ceased operation.

NEA managing director Kulman Ghising said only 150 megawatts of electricity has been supplied through the cross-border Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line during peak hours since the lockdown began, with supply set to further drop to 50 MW from Thursday evening.

Ghising attributed the dramatic decrease in electricity consumption to the closure of most factories, schools and offices. He added that some of NEA’s power stations will have to be shut down due to reduced consumption at night.

“The load has decreased due to factories, businesses, as well as ongoing development projects ceasing operation”, said Ghising, “It is also that time of year between winter and summer peaks.”

Ghising also urged the public staying in their homes to use induction stoves to cook  saying that there is sufficient electricity to allow for the unhindered use of kitchen appliances.

Acknowledging the possibility of temporary power cut-offs due to weather and technical issues, Ghising reassured the public that NEA staff would be on hand at all hours during the lockdown to handle repairs and get the electricity up and running in no time.