Fuel for thought

The alternative energy sources in Nepal lie unexplored despite repeated urgings of environmentalists and energy experts to fully tap the natural resources in order to reduce the country’s excessive reliance on fossil fuel. For instance, according to a study by Alternative Fuel Promotion Centre (AFPC), Nepal is capable of producing up to 20,000 kl of ethanol every year, enough to substitute for 7,300 kl of petrol. Likewise, nearly 70 per cent of waste

material emanating from the Valley could be used to produce biogas.

At present, only 4 out of 25 sugar mills in the country are capable of producing ethanol.

Clearly, there is an urgent need to upgrade the rest to meet the need and growing demand for alternative fuel. At the same time, however, the country needs

to be conscious that farmers do not stop producing essential food crops like rice and maize in their quest for greater profits through sugarcane plantation. Otherwise, while the country’s energy needs will be cut down, it will be ever more dependent on foreign countries to meet its food needs. It is worth recalling that until the early 1990s Nepal was a net exporter of rice; now, it imports nearly half the demand. The feasibility of replacing LPG with in the Valley also needs to be further explored. And what came of experts’ recommendation to extract bio-diesel from Nepali herbs?