Experts call for converting urban waste into clean energy

KATHMANDU: Biogas experts have said the government should act urgently to convert Kathmandu Valley’s urban waste into biogas.

According to a recent study report of Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, (AEPC), five municipalities of the Kathmandu Valley — Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City, Bhaktapur Municipality, Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Kirtipur Municipality — and Kalimati fruits and vegetables market produce 331 tonnes urban waste every day.

AEPC Executive Director Ram Prasad Dhital said with the 331 tonnes of urban waste, 9,791 cubic metres of biogas equivalent to 3,640 liters of diesel or 330 bottles of LPG could be produced every day. “It’s a huge potential waiting to be tapped,” AEPC says in its study report.

Dhital said 13,034 kWh of electrical energy could be generated from the urban waste.

AEPC Programme Officer Sushim Amatya said the purpose of the study was to see if it was feasible to produce compressed natural gas from the organic waste to run Sajha buses in the Kathmandu Valley.

“We came to a conclusion that it is viable to install a plant to produce CNG from the waste,” he said, adding that $15 million would be required to set up a plant to produce biogas. The energy that could be produced from the waste can even be transmitted to the national electricity grid, but for that necessary infrastructure will have to be built, Amatya added.

Director of Biogas Sector Partnership Nepal (BSP-Nepal) Prakash Lamichhane said extracting biogas from urban waste would have multiple advantages to the government authorities, as it would solve the problems of waste management, fertiliser and energy needs.

“Biogas plants give return to the investor in two-three years, but the plant can be used for 25-30 years,” he added.

Dhital said that the capital city now needed diversified system of energy so that if it was struck by disasters again, it would not witness the kind of blackout some areas of Kathmandu witnessed in the aftermath of April 25 earthquake.

Chief Executive Officer of Investment Board Nepal Radhes Pant said his office took initiative in 2008 to convert Kathmandu Valley’s waste into energy, but due to court litigation the process could not move smoothly.

Pant, however, said if everything went as planned, the board would get DPR from two companies in next six to 12 months.

“Once we get the DPR, we will know how much money should be invested to convert Kathmandu Valley’s waste into clean energy,” Pant said, “I am not an expert, but I have heard that it is expensive to link the energy produced from solid waste into national electricity grid.”