Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Hydropower Country Notes
There is a huge theoretical potential for hydropower, reported by Hydropower & Dams World Atlas 2006 (HDWA) to be some 733 TWh/yr, with a technically exploitable capability put at 43 000 MW (corresponding to an output of about 151 TWh/yr, assuming a capacity factor of 0.40). The HDWA quotes Nepal's economically exploitable capability as 14 742 GWh/yr - a much lower level than that reported by the Nepalese WEC Member Committee for the 2004 Survey.
Total hydro capacity at end-2005 was 560 MW, with a further 69 MW of capacity under construction, all of which was scheduled for completion by the end of 2007. Actual hydro generation in 2005 was 2 511 GWh, a small fraction of even the lower economic potential quoted above.
HDWA reports that there are 42 small and mini hydro schemes in operation, with an aggregate capacity of very nearly 20 MW. Additional small plants under construction or planned for installation in the near term total some 30 MW.
Nepal's topography gives it enormous scope for the development of hydroelectricity, which probably provides the only realistic basis for its further economic development. Small-scale hydro plants are the most viable option for rural electrification. Large projects, however, in view of Nepal's limited financial resources, would probably require power export contracts with India as a prerequisite.