Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal said the government had adopted the policy of replacing gas cooking stoves with electric cooktops to prioritise use of clean energy.

Addressing the 21st annual general meeting of Solar Electric Manufacturers Association Nepal in Dhulikhel today, she said big industries would be encouraged to consume electricity. The minister said the government had forwarded the policy of promoting electric vehicles and electric appliances in all sectors.

She argued that solar energy was more cost-effective and time-saving. "The concept of 'one sun, one world, one grid' has been developed of late. This will further facilitate the use of solar power," she said, adding that although there are adequate sources of clean water in Nepal, this water has to be used for multiple purposes and there are challenges of managing it, so in this context she suggested making use of solar energy.

Minister Bhusal argued it was necessary to promote renewable energy even to fulfil the commitment made by Nepal at the UN Climate Conference COP26.

Stating that the government had adopted the policy of hybrid energy system and that the goal was to incorporate 10 per cent alternative energy in the system. The current installed capacity in the energy system is around 2,100 megawatts electricity and as per the '10 per cent alternative energy policy', around 200 megawatts solar electricity can be installed.

Presently, solar energy projects have signed power purchase agreement for 110 megawatts and around 40 megawatts solar power is currently in operation.

"We will hold discussions with neighbouring countries regarding energy trade.

There is a plan to consult on distribution of free electricity for irrigation in Nepal," Bhusal said. Nepal Academy of Science and Technology Chancellor Dr Sunil Babu Shrestha suggested that all stakeholders carry out works promoting solar energy.

Alternative Energy Promotion Centre executive director Madhusudan Adhikari said it was necessary to initiate discussions on policy for harnessing 92 per cent energy remaining to be utilised in Nepal. SEMAN president Indra Khanal said solar energy has been extended to 3,000 institutions, including schools and health posts, and to 961,000 families.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 7, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.