A power crisis
Nepal has the world’s largest hydropower potential, second only to Brazil. Yet, the whole of Nepal consumes less electricity than Gurgaon alone, and still there’s a huge shortage; 10-12 hour daily power cuts are common. This small, poor country is heavily dependant on biomass.
To meet its growing energy demand in rural areas, where 85 per cent of Nepal’s poor lives, the country has aggressively pursued renewable options. Today, one out of three rural households has access to some form of renewable technology – solar, biogas, improved watermills, and mini-hydro plants, among others.
For remote areas In remote villages in mountainous Nepal, solar energy is widely used where electricity transmission lines cannot reach. With 300 sunny days in a year, Nepal has two to three times more solar energy than the world solar leader Germany. Energy cooperatives provide the solar services, infrastructure and technologies to rural households.
Today, about 250,000 rural households have installed solar photovoltaic systems, thousands of solar tukis (lamps), solar water heaters, and cookers. Solar energy powers schools and clinics, lights homes, powers milk chilling and agro-processing units, provides energy for irrigation pumps, radios, mobile recharge, and TV sets, among others.
Can renewable energy improve lives, enhance incomes of the rural poor, protect the environment and provide useful energy at the same time? Yes, but only if you involve communities.Nepal shows the way.
Power for a household The Family Hydro is a cheap, convenient and simple technology that can be operated using even water flowing from a tap. Here, a simple turbine is directly connected to a dynamo, and when flowing water rotates the blades of the turbine, it generates up to 60 watts of electricity, enough to meet the electricity needs of three to five rural households.
Biomass-dependant Biogas plants convert animal dung (and human excrement) into combustible and odorless methane gas, useful for cooking and lighting. The residue, called bio-slurry, is a useful organic fertilizer. Farmers with two heads of cattle can generate enough gas to meet their daily needs.
In Nepal, more than 200,000 households have adopted this simple technology. Biogas helps save forests and reduces women’s work. Women who otherwise spend many hours collecting firewood now have more time to start small businesses and supervise their children’s studies.
Energy to fight poverty In Pinthali, Mangaltar VDC, an improved water mill used for milling grain also produces up to 12 KW of electricity for lighting 120 area households. The scheme is run by a cooperative, which collects a fee from each household and invests its profits in education, agriculture and to promote small businesses, such as poultry farming.