Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alternative Energy and Biogas in Nepal: Some Information

When I was reading about an Alternative Energy Exhibition in Nepal, I remembered that I have written a lot about this matter in the past in SouthAsiaBiz blog. In fact, when it comes to South Asian region, Nepal is perhaps the most shining success story about using alternative energy. In fact, Nepal has more success “in terms of number of biogas plants per capita” compared to China and India- the two large neighbors.

The good thing is that Nepal government has an organization to look after the alternative energy issue: Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC). I spent some time browsing the website and I was very happy with the information it contained. Well, Nepal is still a very poor country and people are suffering from extreme poverty. It has 7 of the top ten highest mountain peaks in the world but its people do not have enough electricity. In fact, in some areas, people have to suffer from 8-12 hours of power cuts (load shedding) in summer time.

Sometimes, I wonder that why Nepal cannot have enough electricity with the mountains and rivers. Well, poverty is indeed a curse for the people. Because, the country is poor, the government cannot get enough taxes and cannot invest in big projects. It is like a vicious cycle. I am just happy that the Nepalese government is acting sincerely in making alternative popular among ordinary people.

From the website, I could find alternative energy related activities in the following areas:


Micro-Hydro Power

Biomass Energy

Improved Cook Stove

Solar Energy

Wind Energy

I am interested about biogas a lot because I believe that it has immense potential not only for Nepal but also for neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh. Biogas Sector Partnership Nepal (BSP-Nepal) is an NGO that is actively working for the promotion of biogas in the country. Until June 2008, 172,858 biogas plants have been made with their support. As a result, more than 1 million people are getting the benefits. 1 million people may not sound to be that much to you but you have to remember that it is mainly the poor people living in rural areas who got benefited through this technology. Not only that, I would also like to catch your attention about the fact that Nepal imports almost 100% of its oil. So, every biogas plant made means saving some foreign currency for the country.

Nepal needs to save foreign currency because its export revenue and tourist arrival are suffering some setbacks. More than that, because of the global economic recession, many Nepalese workers are losing jobs in Malaysia and the Middle East.

Right now, there are nearly 70 private companies that provide service in the biogas sector in Nepal. Three fourth of bio-slurry is used for making natural fertilizer. Biogas makes life easier for rural women because normally they have to collect firewood or other materials for cooking. Biogas means that they have constant supply of fuel for cooking. This will surely help some in spreading female education as girls will have some free time.

The thing that impressed me most about use of biogas in Nepal is the fact that it has happened through effective public-private partnership. Well, the success of Nepal in using biogas is impressive but still not enough. There should be much more biogas plants for the people. The reality is that most people in the rural areas still do not have access to any electricity. So, biogas can indeed be the next best thing for them.

(This entry was first published in February 2009. Because of a technical problem, the entry had to be deleted and I am reposting again now.)

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