After facing the pangs of paralyzing power cuts for many years, the Kathmandu Valley now seems to be free from such problem.
A higher volume of import of power (300 MW) from India and control of leakages of power, among others, have contributed to ending the regular power outage in the valley for the last one year.
When the country was reeling under darkness, some plans and programmes were formed on the development and expansion of renewable energy. But they have been just confined to shelves since the hours-long load-shedding gradually started to get mitigated a year back. At the same time, there is a misconception in the country that hrdropower is the only viable form of renewable energy. That is why the debates and discussions in recent times are focused more on its development and expansion. Hydropower, of course, offers relatively high degree potentials since the country is rice in water resources. But this does not imply that other renewable sources like solar, wind, biomass etc should be grossly overlooked. As a matter of fact, Nepal, for example, is also best suited in terms of harnessing solar power. For instance, various studies have pointed out that Kathmandu and many other parts receive solar radiation at around 4.7 kilowatt-hour per metre square daily. Similarly, of the total 365 days a year, there are as many as 300 sunny days in the country. This fact clearly elucidiates that generating around 2,100 MW of solar energy is feasible in the country. Likewise, there is a bright prospect of wind energy with the prediction of about 3,000 MW of wind energy.
Around 80 percent of the country’s energy consumption is being met through traditional energy sources such as firewood, animal and agricultural wastes. As such Nepal is in dire need of providing clean energy solutions to its population, especially in rural areas. It is a sad truth that the households, businesses and industries rely heavily on fossil fuels (ecologically harmful) while the multiple renewable energy options (ecologically friendly) remain either utterly unmobilised or often overlooked.
That the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix of the country currendly stands at as meager as 2.60 percent attests to this fact.
Many countries in the world are increasing adopting renewable sources to ensure their sustainable socio-economic growth. We do not need to look far geopgraphically to confirm this fact. Our own southern neighbour, India, is making headway rapidly in leveraging renewables as it added a whopping 50 gigawatts of electricity (one gigawatt is equal to1,000 megawatts) generated from them to its national grid in 2016. The country is planning to add extra 175 gigawatt of power generated via renewables to its national grid by 2022. Bangladesh has also been doing pretty well in terms of generating electricity through such resources. Some 3.5 percent of its total electricity generation i.e 15,351 megawatts come from renewables. The country has set a target to increase the share of power generated from them in the total electricity generation to 10 percent by 2021.
Globally speaking, there has a total investment of $ 20 trillion in renewable energy sources. Currently, such sources account for 7 percent in the total share of the global energy consumprion. In the context of Nepal, there is still a lot to do to harness renewable energy. The country’s 14th periodic plan talks about generating 11 megawatts of electricity from mini/micro hydropower projects, 16 megawatts from mini/micro solar power systems and 1 megawatt from wind power from fiscal year 2073/74 to fiscal 2075/76. This target was set to provide power generated from renewables to nine percent of the total population in the country.
No doubt, alternative energy is only the viable mean to ensure a significant augmentation in the access of energy to its population. National grid extension is not feasible in various geaographically challenging places in the country. At the same time, big hydel projects demand a huge investment and all the petroleum products are imported from India or overseas, which is causing a gigantic economic burden for the country.
Such being the reality, the political and burecratic leadership must come up with a long-term plan to promote clean energy. Since the country has already adopted federalism, such policy should consider the need to ensure renewable energy in all seven provinces.