Energy crisis in Nepal

Shradha Giri
December 14th, 2011

A recent study by Practical Action indicates that about 61 per cent households in Nepal do not have access to minimum energy required for lighting. Addressing Nepal’s energy problems requires an increase in access to modern form of energy.

Devi has three children to look after. All day long she has many chores to complete – cook and clean. By the time she finishes her daily chores its already dark. She does not have kerosene left to light her room and she cannot afford it either. She wants to comb her hair, wash her face, and change into something comfortable for a good nights sleep but she cant because she cannot see a thing; forget finding anything. You and I can still do many things after dark but Devi’s day ends once the sun sets.

The only source of lighting left is the kitchen fire, once the fire is out there is not even a single source of light left in the house. You and I have access to many kinds of energy to light our homes as we have the resources but Devi does not.

Devi has to walk an hour to get to the nearest motor able road access and wait for a taxi (which may or may not come) to take her to the nearest market which is an hour drive. But she also needs money to buy kerosene and money is scarce. With little money she has she purchases basic necessity such as salt, sugar and cooking oil. Devi’s life is hard. Can you imagine living like her in the dark after the sun sets?

Recently, Practical Action installed a 400 watt vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) in her village of six households. All six households now have access to clean energy.

“My life is so much better now that we have clean energy for lighting in our homes. We could barely afford the trip to buy kerosene,” s aysDevi.

The newly installed wind turbine supplies energy equivalent to 2 light bulbs for each 6 households in Devi’s village. She is happy with the change and say “We can also charge our mobile phones and watch TV.”

Devi’s niece now has light to study and complete her homework.

 

This is a power station operator showing us how he controls the flow of power to each household. The wind turbine is integrated with 260 watt peak of solar energy system.

“I am so happy now,” says Devi. “I can do so much even after the sun sets. I don’t have to hurry and finish my chores and we don’t eat dinner at 5pm anymore. We have the luxury of eating when we want. Time is no more a restriction, all thanks to the wind energy.”

Most of the rural hilly villages in Nepal are not connected to the national grid. Go to www.practicalaction.org and see how you can donate and change the lives of women like Devi.

Watch more success stories from rural Nepal at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgg3s3m-7sQ

8 Responses to “Energy crisis in Nepal”

  1. William Thompson Says:

    The problem I have with this Is the people have cell phones when they live in huts with dirt floors. I feel the money that was spent on these phones and the cost of service could be used in a more practical manner!

  2. William Thompson Says:

    No person can call a cell phone a “basic need”.. Wasteful!!

  3. Shradha Says:

    Hi William ,
    Thank you for reading and commenting on it. I agree with you that a cell phone is not a basic requirement and that these people are really poor but we also have to understand that a cell phone is the only means of keeping in touch with their loved ones as it is in the only means of communicating with their loved ones who have left their homeland to work as labours either in middle east or India.

    It is only natural that if we are proving clean energy to these households for lighting purpose we can add a small addition to have a charging station for them to charge their phones and watch TV once in a while.

    There are no cell phone booths to make phone calls and there are no landlines provided by the government. So it is only natural that poor people invest on cell phones. To reach their village one has to take a public taxi which is not reliable from the Narayanghat town of Chitwan District. The road is mud laden and it is very dangerous to drive during the monsoon. It takes 2 hours to get to the nearest point leading to their village from where you will have to hike for another 2 hours again and it is a steep hike.

  4. David Fulford Says:

    Having visited various projects for Ashden Awards (see http://www.ashden.org), I would feel that a cell phone is a basic need. This year, I was in Bihar in India looking a a village electrification project. Many people in Bihar work elsewhere for a portion of the year and want to keep in touch with their families. The provision of electricity has enabled families to communicate with each other (80% have cell phones where electricity is available). The same is true of Nepal, many (young men especially) have to take jobs elsewhere to provide sufficient money for the family to survive. A cell phone keeps familes together, even if members are scattered across the world.

  5. Susan Lepry Says:

    I’m glad to hear that one small wind turbine can change peoples lives in so short a time. I am working with a group of students here in Hanoi that would also like to bring small scale wind power to hill village schools in Northern Vietnam.

    With the help of knowledgeable friend I was able to build one based on Hugh Piggots design in Aruba last year. But now on my own, I’m not as confident. The technical manual that I have is very, well, technical. I’m a Biologist and I need help. I happily downloaded the very readable PMG and Fiberglass Blades manuals from this site, but am terrifically worried about the rest. The yaw bearing, tower connection, and tail hinge specifically. Any information or better yet plans for these would be greatly appreciated.

    windturbineunishanoi.gmail.com

    William if you think of cell phones as a way of opening the world to people and ideas maybe it wouldn’t seem so criminal for the poorest of poor people to use them. In the early 90’s I lived in Kathmandu and witnessed first hand the staggering poverty all over the country especially in the rural areas untouched by the trekking industry. Cell phones are not just used to keep in touch, I’ve heard of rural farmers in India checking market prices for their crops in town so they are better able to drive a better bargain while selling to the middle man that comes to their village.

  6. Shradha Giri Says:

    David,
    thank you for your response and thank you for your contribution in various parts of the world. assume you know a lot about the energy poverty since you are also working on the electrification programme. At the moment Practical Action is leading a movement to tackle energy poverty. IPlease log in to our website and find out how you can help.

  7. Shradha Giri Says:

    Hi Susan,
    thank you for your comment and your queries. I will check with our colleague here at the Nepal Office who is also our energy expert and get back to you as soon as possible. If possible could you drop me an email at shradha.giri@practicalaction.org.np and let me know what kind of support you are looking for? We also have a programme called Practical Answers which responds to queries like yours. Waiting for your email.
    Thank you

  8. Amrit Singh Thapa Says:

    For Video Link of this Project:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjzPWao5ZtY&feature=share&list=PL04688D2095DF1542

    Nepal being a developing country facing political turbulence is assumed to be a minority in the case of bringing the renewable resource use to a greater level. In this context, Mirlung Electro-Mech Concern (MEC) has met the rural area Beshar Danda, Nawalparasi District with renewable sources by commencing the project on Wind and solar Hybrid System. Most of the terrain of hills and terai of Nepal has large wind and solar resource. Thus the combination of the two technologies, solar in the day and wind in the night brings 24 hours of electricity making it a natural and affordable source. Such projects can be completed within 15 to 30 days and is a boon for the developing country facing development issues. In addition other similar projects have been undertaken by MEC in different parts of the country. MEC also plans to rectify the energy crisis of the urban areas by implementation of such renewable resources.

    The positive aspect of the site and its location is the 24 hours wind availability. The availability of wind is basically from N-S direction in the morning and S-N direction in the afternoon, continuously from 5 pm to 8 am. This is the best aspect of the site because in this time period the maximum usage of electricity is made in every household. The weekly average of 22 hours would generate full capacity power generation. Similarly, the availability of solar is 4-4.5 hours after 12 pm which varies slightly according to season. In case solar is not available wind generated power could be directly distributed.

    The adjustments were made for 6 houses which never had the privilege of electricity before. The distribution of power in each household is 100 watt. The villagers were overwhelmed with the fact that electricity was made available to them by the renewable sources.

    The available energy of wind and solar is a sustainable resource for this location. This implies that a renewable project is successful only if it is sustainable.

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