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Role of new entity to enhance alternative energy drive in Nepal

In a layman’s glossary, energy is a meaning to the generating electricity in bigger scale. Energy, therefore, sounds big in Nepal. This has been late enough to convey that energy is an essential element for any action or movement like good air to breath for a person. Nepal has big potential in hydropower from rivers and rivulets and solar energy from plenty of sunshine days. Wind power also has been under progress to be potential technology to harvest out of blowing wind in some locations in Nepal.

The country had generated electricity in 1911 AD by installing a 500 kW plant. Even then, in an interval of 115 years in early 2017 started generating 900 MW as installed generation capacity. As all installed plants (exception of Kulekhani) are run-of the-river type, they generate in full capacity in wet season (July -September).
On the contrary, they decrease power generating in the dry seasons (October - June). The plants generate power around 30% in some months in dry season.
In Nepal, electricity facility for lighting is available to 77% of population. That includes all off-grid and standalone systems such as electricity generate by Micro hydro plants and Solar energy technology while Wind power contributes in a very small quantity.

Nepal Electricity Authority, the state utility agency has been providing electricity to households, industries and transport facilities through the national grid. It produces electricity by state owned plants, purchases power produced by private companies and imports from India also. Transmission through the national grid has been thought to be not easy to stretch all over the country. Technological constraints and involvement of heavy cost are the big barriers. On top of that the energy production is yet to be enough to supply to current volume o clientele.

The country has been putting efforts on energy access to people who live at off-grid locations. As such, alternative energy technologies like micro hydro, solar energy, biogas, improved cook stoves are applicated keeping in view needs and availability of resources in the given locations. Concerned authorities say that 40 MW of electricity has been generated through micro hydro and 35 MW of electric power from solar energy systems installed in individual households and institutions. Alternative Energy

Promotion Centre (AEPC) which has been active since late 1996 mentions that that 382,000 Domestic Bio-gas plants, 606,730 Solar home systems, 539 Institutional solar power system, electricity generated by Pico, Micro and Mini hydropower systems to
272,726 households, Improved Cook Stoves to 1,284,816 households and 23372 household have installed metallic improved Cook Stoves so far with AEPC initiatives in 20 years. Some other institutions including Poverty Alleviation Fund, DoLIDAR, Kadoorie also had contributed similar programmes in various locations in different styles and scales.

The government of Nepal with support of GIZ, the German international development assistance recently had released a biomass promotion strategy. The strategy has been taken as a compliment to the alternative energy drive focusing more to achieve the government target, use of biodiesel and bio-ethanol. The strategy will encourage reduce consumption of diesel and petrol by increasing production of biomass energy through the utilisation of bio waste and agricultural residues. The technology will enhance efforts to make every Nepali household smoke free within 2022.

The Government of Nepal with support from the development partners has been implementing the National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP) as an integrated programme in renewable energy sector. For development and promotion of renewable energy, subsidy has been provisioned through the mobilisation of internal and external resource including the United Nation’s “Sustainable Energy for All” and “Sustainable Development Goals”, a campaign called “clean cooking solutions for all” has been initiated to make all the households indoor air pollution free by providing clean cooking technologies. Application of alternative energy technologies were initially carried out by n o n - g o v e r n m e n t organisations in involvement in Nepal. The Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG now Practical Action), Agricultural Development Bank and some enthusiastic technical entrepreneurs had put much effort to initiate alternative energy technologies with different reasons. Energy Sector Assistance Programme (ESAP) I 1999 - 2004, Rural Energy Development Programme (1996 -2011), Energy Sector
Assistance Programme (ESAP) II 2005 - 2010 were archived as successful in delivering energy access to rural people.


National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP) has been in the run till mid July 2017 from mid July 2012 for 5 years. NRREP had developed policies documents required for alternative energy programmes to implement. However, the single basket fund of Nepal government and multi-donor progrmme till date achieved the target at 16% only. Besides that major donors had decided to be absent in the alternative energy programmes in further phase. The communities and individual households who are the target beneficiaries and private sector who are the service and equipment suppliers are landed at a confusing state in the recent years. But the state must not look for loopholes to escape from the responsibilities at least from the point of view of social justice. People who are deprived of energy access to live with some essential facilities must be addressed to provide minimum energy through available and affordable technologies and resources. The country has formulated some attractive policies and modalities to provide energy access to all.Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) is one such initiative casted by Ban ki Moon when he was Secretary General of UN stressing that energy is an important element for all walk of life. This should be available to all within 2030. All the governments and development agencies have been working hand in hand to make it a success. The initiative also has an intimate concern with the seventh point of Sustainable Development Goal.


After working with various modalities in the alternative energy promotion programmes, the Nepal has now to reconsider practicable working modalities. The formulated norms should be taken into consideration for all who are still deprived of sufficient energy as part of infrastructure to upgrade living standard. One problem the authorities have to recognize is that although sufficient technologies are offered in the market or say suppliers are ready to provide services and equipments, people are not made financially capable to receive them. There are provisions of subsidy to buy services and equipments, and also excellent provision for loans. But the buyers and bankers stay far away. The financial institutions who are supposed to be in touch with the people at grass roots are not having an easy connection. Therefore, despite of presence of sufficient policies and methodologies, a bridge between financial agencies and actual beneficiaries is a need of the hour. An additional entity, as such, must be active in between the two stakeholders.


In this connection, some serious people who love to see sustainable energy for all within 2030 or even before are learned to have been putting efforts in creating workable climate so as buyers get purchasing power enhanced. They plan to create an environment for buyers to select a suitable system which may be a mix of biogas and electricity from micro hydro, or biogas and solar energy or ICS and micro hydro or ICS and solar energy
while wind energy may be an additional options in some places.

The energy requirement will be based on size of the household and number of persons in the family. Thus, an appropriate and optimum size of technologies will be based on such indicators. Likewise, community based alternative energy programme will select a bigger but an optimised size of system for their energy
needs.

The entity which has skill of matchmaking will also assist households and communities in getting maximum subsidy from government and other sources, optimum volume of loan at a nominal interest rate. Likewise, assistance will be provided also to plan agreeable payback period in easier emi and fund for maintenance and replacement of batteries and so on.

Similarly, possibility is high for the off-grid utility model of energy access to bring into the scope of the ‘new entity’. As such, the alternative energy sector now must not make any delay to work with the new entity which promises to increase purchasing power of the people at bottom level to get access to clean energy technologies as sustainable energy as cited by SEforAll in accordance with the seventh point of Sustainable
Development Goal.

 

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

 

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