The coronavirus outbreak is having significant negative effects on hydropower project development in many Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Indonesia. Projects are coming to a halt, and many could be facing delayed completion dates as a result.
According to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, in Myanmar, projects such as the construction of a 151-MW hydropower plant in Ahlon Township, Yangon, are to be delayed. Timely development will likely not occur due to the closing of factories and the travel ban to countries like Myanmar, where the operation is located.
Work at the China-backed 510-MW Batang Toru hydropower plant on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island has come to a halt as well.
It is rumored that many Chinese workers who left construction sites to return to their homes for Chinese New Year now cannot travel back due to the travel ban, leaving many hydropower projects understaffed. AFP, a global news agency, states that Nepal is being directly affected by the lack of returning employees, as the country is home to many Chinese-backed hydropower projects.
“In their absence, projects are being delayed or slowed down,” said Vishnu Bahadur Singh from the Nepal Hydropower Association. “Many of them are in specialized work, and it is not easy to replace them locally.”
The Himalayan Times concludes that construction of the 400-kV Dhalkebar substation, 111-MW Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project, 140-MW Tanahu Hydropower Project and 37-MW Upper Trishuli 3B Project have been affected by the coronavirus as well. This list is just a few of many projects in Nepal that continue to be affected by this outbreak.
Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Co., developer of the Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project, has already submitted a letter seeking “force majeure” for the construction works. Engineering News-Record reported that a full emergency halt will take place for the endeavor if conditions do not improve.
“Depending on how the situation pans out, completion date of projects could be pushed back by at least six months to one-and-a-half years,” as per The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) officials.
Other affected projects in Nepal include the 756-MW Tamor Storage Hydroelectric Project in the country’s eastern provinces and a 400-kV substation for the $99-million, 179-mile Hetauda-Dhalkebar-Duhabi transmission line.