Kathmandu, March 22
Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma has urged for intensifying cooperation among Asia-Pacific countries to develop hydroelectricity in Nepal and cross-border trade in electricity.
Addressing inaugural session of two-day Regional Meeting on Sustainable Energy for Asia-Pacific Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which kicked off here today, Minister Sharma said Nepal’s tremendous hydroelectricity potential, if tapped, can cater to the clean and sustainable energy demand of the region and called on investors to harness this potential.
Sharma stated that regional economies like India and Bangladesh are largely dependent on coal for electricity generation but as per their commitment to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, these countries have to shift to clean sources of energy like solar, wind and hydroelectricity. In this context, Nepal’s hydroelectricity can play a crucial role to cater to the energy demand of the region, he added.
The country itself has envisioned to consume more electricity replacing all the fossil fuels and bio-mass and the consumption in the next 10 years will hover around 10,800 megawatts, according to the minister. He further said that the government has envisaged massive public investment for hydropower development and through the returns of this investment every Nepali will be able to embrace entrepreneurship. This will also help increase consumption of electricity in the country as people would be able to consume more power.
Addressing the programme, Gyan Chandra Acharya, undersecretary general of the United Nations, highlighted that Goal-7 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to ensure access to affordable, sustainable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030 with emphasis on efficiency gains and renewables.
Till date, around 40 per cent of the population in 13 Asia-Pacific LDCs do not have access to electricity. Acharya emphasised on the need of a plan that aims to increase the viability of investments in modern energy, lowering the associated risks and making the initiatives more ‘bankable’. It is reported that to meet the business-as-usual energy demand, the Asia-Pacific region would require a cumulative investment of approximately $11.7 trillion in the energy sector in between 2010 and 2035.
KM Abdus Salam, additional secretary of Bangladesh government, while addressing the inaugural session as LDCs chair, said affordable modern energy is key to achieve other development goals. Stating that high cost of energy is considered as the major bottleneck for economic expansion of LDCs, he sought support from development partners for technological know-how to translate the UN’s mission of ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ into action.
Rensje Teerink, ambassador of European Union Delegation to Nepal, pledged to provide technological support to LDCs to make modern energy accessible to the people. She talked about EU’s support for transmission line and hydropower projects and said all these initiatives have been taken for all Nepalis to access electricity facility.
National Planning Commission Vice Chairman Min Bahadur Shrestha said that the country has been doing ground work to develop viable business model for private sector to attract investment in modern energy including renewable sources.
The event is being organised by NPC, UNDP and UN-OHRLLS.
A version of this article appears in print on March 23, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.