New hydropower projects bring Nepal closer to 100% electrification target

Tractebel signed a new contract for two strategic hydropower projects in the Mugu district of western Nepal’s Karnali Province, with a combined capacity of 441 MW. Our experts are responsible for updating feasibility studies, detailed engineering design, and environmental impact studies for both sites.

Nepal is two steps closer to its goal of 100% electrification nationwide. The target is no small feat, with remote areas and rugged mountain terrain being a barrier to the required infrastructure. The 306 MW Upper Mugu Karnali and 135 MW Namlan Khola, two run-of-river hydroelectric projects in the Mugu district, will bring the country closer to its goal with the help of our experts.

Tractebel was mandated by clients Elevate Energy and Apollo Energy (both Golyan Group companies) to contribute to the preliminary phases of both projects. Our hydropower teams are updating feasibility studies, performing detailed engineering design, preparing the tender documents and conducting environmental impact studies for Upper Mugu Karnali and Namlan Khola. The mandate was signed in April 2023, began in May and is expected to run through December 2024.

These are the first projects to receive funding from the International Development Finance Cooperation (DFC) in Nepal, and are among the largest hydropower projects being developed by the private sector in the country.

Tractebel at the signing ceremony in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 20, 2023

The Upper Mugu Karnali project at a glance

To put the project into perspective, technical highlights of the future 306 MW Upper Mugu Karnali hydroelectric project include:
• 27-m high barrier across the river with 4 floodgates, each 10 m wide by 10 m high
• 2 approach tunnels, each roughly 1 km long
• 4-chamber underground desander to remove/separate sand and silt
• 16-km long headrace tunnel to carry water from the intake to the powerhouse
• Underground surge shaft 67 m high
• Penstock pipe nearly 3 km long to carry water to the turbines
• Surface powerhouse with 4 60-MW turbines
• Switchyard where the power is connected to the national grid
• Double-circuit, 400kV transmission line
• General infrastructure including access roads

The Namlan Khola project at a glance

Overview of the 135 MW Namlan Khola Hydroelectric Project:
• Weir/spillway: a 27-m high barrier across the river with 2 floodgates, each 15.6 m wide by 12 m high
• 3 approach tunnels, each roughly 140 m long
• 3-chamber underground desander
• Headrace tunnel nearly 5 km long
• Underground surge shaft 80 m high
• Penstock pipe nearly 435 m long
• Underground powerhouse with 3 45-MW Francis turbines
• Underground switchyard
• Double-circuit, 400 kV transmission line, 120 km long
• General infrastructure including access roads

441 MW for the region, the country and the environment
Hydroelectric power is a sustainable, renewable, low-carbon energy source. The energy generated from the Upper Mugu Karnali and Namlan Khola sites will increase the use of electricity in this remote area of Nepal, and to reduce dependency on harmful fossil and biofuels as energy sources. The projects will create employment opportunities in the region and positively impact the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The additional energy will enable Nepal to maintain its energy surplus status and increase its export capacity, which in turn will decrease Nepal’s trade deficit.

“Tractebel is honoured to provide our services to Elevate Energy and Apollo Energy and contribute to these two important hydroelectric projects. They demonstrate our commitment to delivering sustainable energy solutions that benefit both the environment and the country’s economic growth. We are excited to be part of these important initiatives and look forward to applying our expertise towards the success of these projects.”

Sumit Bajracharya, Business Development and Project Execution Manager