Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project: Installation of penstock pipes likely to be completed in early May

- PRAHLAD RIJAL, Kathmandu

Apr 23, 2019-

The Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project expects to finish installing the penstock pipes by the first week of May. These immense tubes carry water from the reservoir to the turbines to generate electricity, and the complex task of fitting them is one of the most challenging parts of the project’s hydro-mechanical component.

The 456 MW national pride project located in Dolakha district in north central Nepal plans to start commercial generation of electricity by the end of December. The project will switch on the first unit which will generate 76 MW, project officials said.

This is the fourth time the project has revised its completion deadline. Earlier, it had planned to generate electricity by mid-November, but the deadline had to be pushed back due to the poor work executed by the hydro-mechanical contractor, Texamo Railway Engineering.

Construction work stopped for months because Texamo lacked expertise to execute the difficult task of installing the penstock pipes. Subsequently, the project developer, Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Limited, appointed another contractor to fit the high pressure steel penstock pipes when the Indian firm abandoned the project after completing more than 95 percent of the construction work.

As delays in the execution of the hydro-mechanical component threatened to push back the completion date of the project which was already running late, the project developer asked the Indian contractor to reassign the crucial task of installing the penstock pipes to Austrian firm Andritz Hydro.

In January, Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Limited, Texamo and Andritz signed a tripartite agreement under which the Indian firm subcontracted the task of installing the penstock pipes to the Austrian company. Immediately after signing the pact, Andritz mobilised workers at the project site and construction work resumed.

Kulman Ghising, managing director of the Nepal Electricity Authority, said that the construction of the powerhouse had been completed and project officials would expedite work on the penstock pipes. “The project will also test the headwork by filling water in the dam, intake and gates by May,” he said.

The project has faced massive cost overruns as its completion was delayed due to natural disasters, logistical challenges, design changes and poor work by the contractor. Initially, the project was planned to be built at a cost of Rs35 billion, but the price tag has now doubled to an estimated Rs70 billion.

After Upper Tamakoshi roars into life, Nepal is projected to have surplus energy at least during the wet season, and the Nepal Electricity Authority, the state-owned power utility which is the sole off taker of power in the country, will be in a position to export electricity to neighbouring India under the energy banking mechanism.

During the wet season, surplus energy can be transmitted over the Khimti-Dhalkebar transmission line to the Dhalkebar substation and on to the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line for export to India.

Published: 23-04-2019 08:34

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