Renewable Energy in Nepal

Renewable Energy in Nepal

April 11, 2018

Energy is the primary and most universal measure of all kinds of activities accomplished by human beings and nature. Everything what happens in the world is the expression of flow of energy in one of its forms. Depending upon the value of ‘energy yield ratio’, a technical term used to measure the energy output from a given energy source at the cost of extraction procedures,  the energy sources can be categorized as primary, secondary and supplementary albeit there may be different other criterion to classify the energy sources. Here we are paying our attention about the Renewable Energy Sources (Biomass, Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Tidal, Wave etc.) which can be defined as inexhaustible energy sources or can be assumed so given their energy generation pattern based on several freely occurring natural phenomenons.

It is irrefutable truth that fossil fuels (highest share in the global energy mix) have limited reserve on the earth and time required for their formation is hundreds of years. The other sources like hydroelectric power plants, nuclear power plants and thermal power plants may not be feasible in all the countries in terms of economy, availability of resource, harnessing technology and generation and consumption potentials. Despite of some of the issues (cost, output, time, capacity etc.) involved with RETs (Renewable Energy Technologies), they can be ready meal for the people of most of the developing countries in the world, who are suffering from the hunger of energy. Talking about Nepal, no matter how high class speech we deliver in the talks and seminar programs, still more than 65% (CBS Report) of total populations are using biomass as their main energy source for cooking and space heating. To cope with the present energy crisis and considering future energy scenario in the developing countries like Nepal and in the world as well, it is exigent to expand the most feasible and economical RETs in efficient manner which would not only ensure the sustainable supply of clean energies but also helps to elevate the living standard of most of the Nepalese people who are in rural areas. Though  heavy slogans have been made on this topic motivated by political factors, current share of renewable energy in the domestic energy mix is merely 2.7%, whereas that of traditional and commercial sources is 55% and 44.3% as per the Economic Survey 2015/16 published by Ministry of Finance. Current national figures on energy consumption suggest that traditional energy sources in general and biomass energy sources in particular are the dominant supplier of Nepal’s domestic energy need. As biomass is not considered clean source of energy, attentions are required to enhance the combustion characteristic and associated energy efficiency of biomass such that rural population could get clean and smoke free energy while meeting their day to day energy need of cooking and heating. By the end of 13th plan, the total forest area has increased to 44.7%, thus raising the possibility sustainable fuelwood supply in the biomass dominated domestic energy pattern.

To formulate policy, to facilitate and conduct researches and to smoothen and govern the implementation of RETs in Nepal, Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) has been established as a government body under the Ministry of Environment. This body has been facilitating the dissemination of different RETs (Biomass, Biogas, Solar, Micro Hydro and Wind) in the rural households of Nepal by providing subsidy and other technical facilities. Though AEPC is GoN undertaking body, most of the policies and their implementation modalities are dictated by foreign donors. Lack of vivid plans, feeble commitment from government side towards implementation, lack of absorption of available domestic experts and major undertaking by donors for the execution of RETs related projects in both financial and technical aspects are some of the chief contributors towards low share of renewable energy in national energy mix. National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP) under AEPC, is the vital national framework for the development, implementation and monitoring of diverse range of renewable energy projects throughout Nepal is surviving entirely under the mercy of donor groups which is going to complete its tenure by 2017, GoN thus needs to take appropriate measures to continue the promotion of RETs in Nepal. Without taking complete responsibility by GoN on the vital aspects of renewable energy sector, sustainability cannot be envisioned in this field.

As the current 14th three years plan has accommodated the essence of renewable energy in its strategies to meet the energy demand of Nepalese people especially which are away from the national mainstream grid of energy supply and has also targeted to generate 16 MW and 1 MW from solar and wind sources respectively, government should develop its working modalities and strengthen the capabilities of concerned institutions under it to attain these targets. As the country with merely 0.025% contribution in the global GHGs emission, Nepal can get benefit from the climate adaptation and mitigation projects involving the installation of RETs. Through the provision of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under Kyoto Protocol, Nepal can get revenue according to her Certified Emission Reduction (CER) through CDM projects. Currently Biogas, Community Forest and Improved Water Mill projects are registered as CDM projects generating revenue as per the price in international carbon market. Improved Cookstoves project having huge nationwide coverage is also an attractive CDM project and GoN should strengthen its working in this direction. To fulfill the energy demand of remote/rural people in sustainable manner and to meet the low carbon emission target of the regional and global institutions where Nepal is a signatory party, RETs can be milestone. To ensure effective and sustainable implementation of RETs in Nepal, cooperation and commitment from/among government, policy makers, researchers, professionals and beneficiaries all is essential.