Nepal has approved China’s Gezhouba Group Corp.’s (CGGC) proposal to develop the 1,200-MW Budhi Gandaki HPP in central Nepal using an engineering, procurement, construction and financing (EPCF) model.
“CGGC will get a year to make an assessment of the hydropower project and arrange funds for its development,” said Nepali Energy Minister Janardan Sharma after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s cabinet gave approval in principle last week.
“If the Chinese developer comes up with a proposal agreeable to us, we will sign another contract,” he added.
State-run CGGC has proposed building the 1,200-MW Budhi Gandaki project under the EPCF model at an estimated cost of more than US$2.5 billion.
It has offered to arrange a soft loan from Export Import Bank of China for this project.
The storage-type hydro project will be developed on the Budhi Gandaki River on the border of Gorkha and Dhading districts in central Nepal, about 2 km upstream of the Trishuli-Budhi Gandaki confluence and 80 km west of Kathmandu.
It is to be designed with an installed capacity of 1,200 MW generating 3,383 GWh of annual energy.
The main structures include: a double curvature arch dam of height 263m above foundation; a reservoir flooding nearly 63 square km of land along the Budhi Gandaki and Ankhu Khola rivers; a surface powerhouse with six 200-MW Francis turbines on the left bank; and a short headrace tunnel and penstock tunnels linking the intake to the powerhouse.
CGGC is currently engaged in developing the 30-MW Chameliya HPP in the far west of Nepal and the 60-MW Upper Trishuli 3A HPP in the central Nepal.
The energy ministry regards the Buddha Gandaki project as crucial to solving the country’s perennial power supply shortage, which is estimated to be over 600 MW.
It is said that the project will not only solve the power shortage in the major demand centres like Kathmandu but help the country to export power to its southern neighbour, India.
The Nepalese government is seeking global investors to develop hydro projects as part of a plan to add 10,000 MW of hydro capacity to its existing 760 MW by 2025 and to export part of its output to India.v