Once the scheme kick starts, the consumption of liquefied petroleum products which is mostly used for cooking purpose will be replaced with electricity
Come next year-end, the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will have surplus energy in its grid after the completion of the 456-Megawatt Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project. In order to fully utilise the surplus energy, the NEA has taken initiatives to promote electric vehicles by installing charging stations first in the capital and then expanding the same in other cities. For this purpose, the NEA has called a tender from private firms to install charging stations at various parts of the capital to encourage people to shift their gears towards electric vehicles which will greatly help reduce emission levels that have become environmental concerns. First, the NEA will install a charging station at its central premises, and it will also make it mandatory for top level officials to use the electric vehicles to spread the positive message. The power utility has also made plans to encourage people to use induction heaters and other electric appliances so that more electricity can be used domestically. Once the scheme kick starts, the consumption of liquefied petroleum products which is mostly used for cooking purpose will be replaced with electricity generated from within the country.
This will not only save hard-earned foreign currency but will also help reduce carbon emission and encourage investors to invest more on hydroelectric projects. The NEA has plans to set up high-capacity batteries to storage surplus energy during off-peak season and use them in vehicle charging stations. The government, in its fiscal 2016/17, has also given incentives to EVs by reducing the customs tariff from the previous 30 percent to one percent for public vehicles (bus and micro-bus) and 10 percent to private vehicles (jeep, car and van) from the earlier 30 percent of the total cost of the vehicles. Figures show that there are 300 private EVs and around 2,000 scooters registered with the Department of Transport Management (DoTM).
Still there remain major challenges for the smooth operation of EVs. EV traders have called upon the government to give more incentives for EVS, charging stations and route permits for public EVS. The move taken by the government and the NEA is a welcome step as other developed countries including China, India, France, Germany and the UK have announced that they will be gradually shifting towards EVs deadlines. India has announced that it will phase out the production of diesel and petrol vehicles from 2030. It means that Nepal which does not manufacture any type of vehicles must come up with a long-term plan to shift towards EVs with more incentives and planning. Giant vehicle manufacturing companies have already developed advanced batteries that can help run a vehicle about 400-500 kilometers on a single charge and they can also last for about 10-15 years. While the EV dealers have been buoyed by the government and NEA’s decision to promote EVs, the DoTM should also make necessary preparations to give route permits to public EVs. But the government must make sure that the price of per unit of electricity will be cheaper than the fossil fuels (diesel, petrol and LPG) that consume most of the foreign currencies earned from exports, remittances and tourism.
Domestic manufacturers of cement are unable to meet demands. The hydropower projects in particular require huge amounts of cement. Due to the scarcity of cement many hydropower projects has been disrupted due to the lack of cement. Imports of cement have been unable to meet the needs after the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology set new standards. Foreign manufacturers of cement have to comply with its requirements to follow quality, packaging and labeling set. Importers of cement say Indian cement manufacturers are not willing to set up a separate plant to produce sacks as per the criteria. They say this would increase costs.
However, several cement manufacturers of India have received approval to supply cement up to the Nepali standard. The Indian manufacturers supplied higher grade of cement for the infrastructure projects in Nepal. Nepali manufacturers are able to produce eight million metric tonnes of cement per year while there is a demand for over 200 million tonnes. Independent power producers also face the same problem.
A version of this article appears in print on September 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.