Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Nepal struggles with electricity shortages

Nepal has huge hydropower resources, and the Centre for Rural Technology won an Ashden Award in 2007 for their work upgrading water mills. However, in recent weeks there have been daily power cuts of 12-14 hours, due to low water levels in rivers. The bad news is that the government is turning to fossil fuels to fill the gap, according to this BBC news article:

Declaring the national power crisis recently, it [the government] brought out a work plan consisting of emergency, short and long-term measures. Installation of the diesel-powered plants was considered to be part of the emergency work plan.

But energy experts say this approach is wrong, especially for a nation with access to so much potential hydropower.

"The decision by the government to bring in 200MW of diesel generation is indeed a step backwards," says Biksh Pandey, a director of Winrock International, a clean energy specialist organisation.

"While the world is moving from dirty to clean energy, Nepal would be going in the other direction."

Criticism from a number of areas led to speculation that the government might change its mind on the diesel decision. But Water Resources Minister Bishnu Poudel did not give the impression of someone about to change their mind. "After the last announcement of the measures to deal with load shedding, we have not made any new decision," he told the BBC.

This suggests that the government is sticking to its plans; one of which is to switch from renewable energy sources to a growing dependence on fossil fuels.

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