Nepal | September 24, 2020

Renewable energy: Huge potentials

Sudeep Ghimire and Zulker Naeen
Share Now:

In 2015, Nepal and the World Bank signed an agreement to invest USD 130 million to develop a 25 MW solar project that will eventually be connected to the national grid. It is the largest renewable energy plant planned in the country

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Nepal is one of the least developed countries with more than 80% of its population residing in rural areas.

It has no oil, gas, or coal reserves, and its energy sector is dominated by the traditional energy sources like firewood, crop residues, and animal dung mainly for domestic use.

The majority of rural populations are meeting their energy needs by burning biomass in traditional stoves, and mostly fossil-derived fuels are imported. Also, the continuous increase of petroleum imports has an adverse impact on its fragile economy.

The major sources of renewable energy are mini and micro hydropower, solar energy, various forms of biomass energy, biogas and wind energy etc. But still around 85% of the total final energy consumption in Nepal is met by traditional biomass energy and around 28% of households in Nepal do not have access to electricity.

Nepal aims to achieve universal access to clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy solutions by 2030. It is expected to reduce dependence on traditional and imported energy by increasing access to renewable energy.

The use of solar energy is more reliable than traditional electricity in Nepal. Private installations of solar panels are more frequent in urban areas used as a backup during the power outages.

On average, Nepal has 6.8 sunshine hours per day with the intensity of solar radiation ranging from 3.9 to 5.1 kWh per meter square, with a commercial potential of solar power for grid connection estimated to be 2,100 MW.

In 2015, Nepal and the World Bank signed an agreement to invest USD 130 million to develop a 25 MW solar project that will eventually be connected to the national grid. It is the largest renewable energy plant planned in the country. The wind potential is available in the mountainous region.

Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment project has made an attempt to map the wind resource potential in Nepal and has shown a very good prospect of wind energy with the prediction of about 3,000 MW of wind energy.

Despite its hydro dominant policies, Nepal has established a semi-autonomous agency called the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre in 1996. It claims that more than 1.5 million families have got access to electricity using renewable energy sources, especially in off-grid areas.

Meanwhile, rapid urbanization fueled by stable economic growth has already created a huge energy demand in Bangladesh, where electricity is the widely used form of energy.

At present, about 72% of the total population have  access to electricity. Bangladesh is starving for energy for the last few decades since its power generation mostly depends on imported fossil fuel and natural gas. The present government has increased electricity generation, yet the grid electricity to the remote areas is difficult because of the lack of longstanding distribution facilities.

Bangladesh is hosting the fastest growing Solar Home System program in the world with over 50,000 SHS unit installed per month in the recent past. As of 2017, Bangladesh has the world’s largest Solar Home System programme with about 5 million SHS.

Over 30 million people are dependent on solar energy creating employment for over 100,000 people. It’s an off-grid success and over 12 percent of the population outside the grid network is getting access to electricity through the installation of more than 4.5 million solar home systems.

Bangladesh enjoys average solar radiation between 4 and 6.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per square meter per day and is also blessed with year-round sunshine. In terms of rural renewable energy development, the country has made significant progress by installing Solar Home Systems in the off-grid areas.

Back in 1996, it became popular among the rural people for its affordable monthly installment facility at the price of kerosene. It became a successful financial model for rural development.

A strong network of supply chain and branches also help Solar Home System become popular and acceptable.

A community-based solar approach such as solar irrigation pumps, solar mini-grid, arsenic water treatment plants, and solar street lights have the potential of benefiting the community people by ensuring food security, arsenic-free pure water, improved socio-economic conditions in off-grid areas of Bangladesh.

However, Bangladesh solar mission needs to be designed to achieve SDGs by 2030 and to build the foundation to reach 100% renewable energy (RE) in the future.

To facilitate  thousands of rural villages through the next decade, moving towards renewable energy can bring a smile to the rural population by developing agricultural output, offering food security, providing modern facilities, creating new businesses and jobs for both men and women.

Bangladesh’s solar mission may gradually guide the nation towards renewable energy and to become the first solar nation by 2041.

The go-for renewables for both countries mostly depend on the continuous government and donor support and public-private partnerships. The extension of natural resources based electricity is always perilous for the environment than the renewable energy.

In this backdrop, the use of the renewables has been seen as viable alternatives to meet the existing demand of power supply for both countries. Despite huge potentials both countries have yet to exploit the solar energy to meet the energy needs.

A version of this article appears in print on October 06, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

As US surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, Wisconsin sounds alarm over surges in cases

NEW YORK: Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday declared a new public health emergency and extended a face mask mandate into November to fight a coronavirus flareup in his state, as the number of people who have died across the United States since the pandemic began passed 200,000. In-pers Read More...

Govt urged to implement apex court’s order on jailbirds

SC order aims to avoid crowds in prisons KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 22 The National Human Rights Commission has urged the government to implement provisions stipulated in the Criminal Offences (Determination and Execution of Sentence) Act-2017, for improvement of prison conditions. The NHRC made th Read More...

Code of conduct vital in journalism: Prez

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 22 President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has called for journalists to fully abide by the code of conduct for consolidation of democracy. Addressing the 51st anniversary of the Press Council Nepal in Shital Niwas here today, the head of the state underscored the need of compl Read More...

Probe into prisoner’s death sought

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 22 Kin of a prisoner, who allegedly died of COVID-19 while undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital, have demanded investigation into the death. Ram Lakhan Jaiwal, 63, of Siddhartha Municipality-5, Rupandehi died at the hospital on Saturday. He had been serving sentence in the Read More...

Attempts to dismiss rape exposed, ward chair chased off

BARA, SEPTEMBER 22 There are reports of attempts to cover up a rape incident in Subarna Rural Municipality, Bara. What is worse, an elected local representative is learnt to have been involved in such attempts. On Friday evening, a 12-year-old girl was raped in Auraiya in Subarna Rural Municip Read More...

Schools in Byas moot possibility of physical classes

DAMAULI, SEPTEMBER 22 Byas Municipality today held a meeting with head teachers and principals of community and private schools to find a way for reopening schools that have been shut for a long time due to COVID-19. The municipality held a meeting to discuss the possibility of opening sch Read More...

126 lost lives in Gandaki landslides, floods this monsoon

POKHARA, SEPTEMBER 22 As many as 126 people lost their lives to natural disasters such as floods and landslides in Gandaki Province this monsoon. Gandaki Province Minister of Internal Affairs and Law Hari Bahadur Chuman said that most of the casualties happened in Myagdi and Baglung districts. Read More...

Probe panel recommends action against three cops

DHANGADI, SEPTEMBER 22 A probe committee formed to investigate the death of Amar Bahadur Chand, who died in Kailali Police Custody, has recommended action against three police personnel. Chand had died in the toilet of Bahuliya Border Police Post on August 12. The probe committee led by SP Raj Read More...