EDITORIAL: Solar power

The government should also devise a mechanism so that the surplus energy to be generated from solar plants can be sold to the grid

Solar power could help deal with the increasing scarcity of energy. The beauty of solar power is that it is virtually limitless and cost effective in the long run. Nepal happens to be one of the places blessed with 10-hour sunshine on an average. Yet we have not been able to exploit even a small fraction of this abundant energy gifted by nature. It is still taken lightly and not given the priority that it rightfully deserves. Thus, the government initiative requiring new residential, commercial and public buildings to install solar plants to meet at least 25 per cent of the energy needs should receive true praise. Why had this step not been taken earlier? Every year many new buildings are built in the municipalities, sub-metropolitan cities and Kathmandu Metropolitan City. From now on they would be required to have them in all of them. The government would entertain only building plans with this provision when they approve the design and completion of the buildings. On-the-site inspections would be carried out by the concerned officials before issuing the final certificate of having met the requirements. This campaign is particularly targeting the commercial complexes that are coming up rapidly and also government buildings, cinema halls, among others.

This is one giant step that has been taken to tap the solar energy we possess in abundance. Besides requiring that the buildings of the future have plants to tap solar energy available the government has yet to come up with concrete plans for subsidies for solar energy which is still much expensive compared to energy from hydropower projects. Towards this end, there should be subsidies and incentives for building the solar panels. It must not be taken as a burden by the builders of the buildings for we would be looking at the future when the need for energy would continue to rise. The financial institutions could cash in by providing the loans to those planning to build the houses, taking into considering that a large part of their capital is lying idle. In the long term this would turn out to be a very profitable venture. Therefore, the government should come forward with a complete policy after doing the necessary homework setting deadlines.   If needs be it has to be willing to take stern action against the defaulters so that the builders strictly follow the rules set by the government. As the country now is suffering from power shortages leading to load shedding for most part of the day it is urgent to meet the need for electricity as it is not only crippling the economy of the country but also causing an inconvenience with which it is unable to cope with.

Technical support envisaged for this programme should be forthcoming. Furthermore, it would also be wise to see to it that solar panels are installed even in older buildings lacking such facilities where possible. As they are expensive with solar panels capable of generating 1,500 watts costing around Rs. 250,000 and Rs. 300,000 the government could assist those who are planning to install the solar panels. Apart form this government should also devise a mechanism so that the surplus energy to be generated from solar panels can be sold to the grid. Once this mechanism comes into force it is expected that every household, commercial and public buildings will come forward to install the solar energy on their own initiatives.

Farmers hit-hard

Hundreds of fish farmers in Parsa district have been hit hard due to the prolonged bandh and agitation called by the Madhes-based parties. They have not been able to sell their products to major cities like the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and Chitwan due to the continued disruption of transportation. A total of 865 families are engaged in fishery covering an area of about 140 hectares of land and they produce about 1,700 metric tonnes of fish every year. As a result of disruption in transportation service they are forced to sell fish at a throw away price at local markets that cannot absorb the entire products.

This is only the tips of the Iceberg. Other perishable commodities such as vegetables, fruits and milk products have also not been able to reach the bigger markets due to the Madhes agitation that has brought the entire economy of the Tarai region to a grinding halt. Farmers have said that they have lost their investment made in the agriculture sector pushing them towards poverty.