Hydroelectricity In Nepal
Nepal has no reserves of oil or gas, and only small coal reserves. Commercial energy consumption in Nepal is made up of hydroelectricity, coal, and oil products. Noncommercial energy sources, such as wood, animal wastes, and crop residues, account for a significant share of the country’s total energy consumption. Nepal is a net energy importer. Oil is the main import and in 1998 it is estimated that Nepal imported 10,000 barrels of oil per day for products such as kerosene, diesel, jet fuel, gasoline.
Swift rivers flowing south through the Himalayas have massive hydroelectricity potential to service domestic needs and the growing demand from India. Hydropower exports are one of the major domestic resources which can fuel economic growth in Nepal, but development of these resources requires significant capital investment. Nepal’s installed electric generating currently is around 300 megawatts (MW). Only a small share (around 1%) of Nepal’s potential hydroelectric power capacity currently is being exploited. Potentially, Nepal could be a large net power producer and exporter and private investment in hydropower development is growing rapidly. Hydro projects currently under construction in Nepal should nearly double the country’s total generating capacity over the next two years. At present, however, the country faces frequent power outages and shortages (yet another obstacle to economic growth), while only around 15% of the country’s population has access to electricity.
Renewable energy, including micro-hydro, biomass, solar energy, etc. is gaining popularity in Nepal, particularly in remote regions of the country. Rural electrification is a main priority of Nepal’s current Five-Year Plan. This will involve expanding the country’s transmission and distribution grid, and possibly installing thousands of solar power units-particularly in remote areas of the country-over the next several years.