Nepal awaits clean energy revolution and “It’s not that we have a philosophical difference with the fossil fuel industry–it’s that their business model is destroying the planet.” Really, the maximum use of fossil fuel has become a curse. Recently fossil fuel i.e coal, petroleum, natural gases, heavy crude oil are the most used energy sources worldwide for heating, generating electricity, transportation and much more. Though they have positive uses, their excessive uses have led to negative impacts. The burning of fossil fuel causes air pollution, global warming, rising sea levels, environmental degradation, greenhouse gas effect, affect the health of people, causes climate change and much more. Global warming drastically increases the surface temperature of the earth and distress the ecological systems. Implications include severe weather, drought, flood, drastic temperature changes, heat waves and more severe wildfires. Food and water supplies are threatened and disease carrying insect expand their ranges. The main diverse effects on human health of atmospheric pollutants resulting from fossil fuel combustion are ophthalmic problems, skin injuries, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and some types of cancer. Effects on the nervous system have also been associated with high levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Indirect health effects may be related to climatic changes caused by air pollution. Environment degradation has caused untimely rainfall, increase in temperature, Glacial Lake Outburst (GLOs), reduction in the number of flora and fauna, ecological imbalance, reduction in agricultural production, a decrease in a number of water resources which has affected millions of lives of the earth.
The whole world including Nepal is also suffering from the effects of burning fossil fuel. Though fossil fuels aren’t used primarily these have contributed to climate change and affect the lives of people. Being a developing country, Nepal’s economic and social development is being hampered by its inadequate energy supply. As biomass which includes woody and nonwoody forest products has been the major sources of energy in rural areas, coal and petroleum products are being used as commercial sources of energy in Nepal. Because of the country’s increasing dependency on imported energy sources, and environmental and public health hazards associated with traditional in the use of biomass as a source of energy, a decentralized, efficient, low cost, and environmental-friendly energy supply system based on diverse indigenous renewable resources is the present need of scattered settlements of the country.
There are great opportunities for solar energy, hydroelectricity, wind energy, geothermal energy, biofuel/bioenergy, improved cook stoves, and improved water mill. Nepal being the world’s second richest country in water resources has the capacity of producing 80,000 MW of which 42,000 MW is technically feasible. Hydropower projects are most common sources of energy recently. As per the estimate by WECS (1995), 78% of the land area of Nepal lies in high potential solar insolation areas. Till 2005, there are around 61,000 solar heaters installed in the country. This technology for electricity generation has been widely used for in households, telecommunications, airports etc.
The potentiality of producing biogas is about 1.9 million plants. The Biogas Sector Partnership-Nepal (BSP/N) under the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and with the cooperation from various donors is promoting the installation of a biogas plant in various part of the country. There are about 2,000,000 biogas plants installed in various districts of Nepal. According to BSP-Nepal, 72 private biogas companies and 16 biogas appliances manufacturing workshops have been developed in the country and 96% of the constructed biogas plants are in operation for the effective dissemination of this technology in Nepal. While the gas provides clean energy for cooking, heating, lighting and even running engines, the effluent is used as a wet or sun dried fertilizer. The use of ICS (Improved Cooking Stoves) is estimated to save 25-40% of fuel wood, plays a great role to reduced smoke, create hazards free health and sanitation situations at individual, family, community levels. A technique for producing beehive shaped charcoal briquettes from leaves, twigs and forestry/agricultural residues which are easy to ignite, burn quite cleanly has been developed in Nepal which is appropriate for rural areas. A 30 kW wind power generator was installed by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) in Kagbeni, Mustang, but the unit was heavily damaged by high winds during operation. At present, NEA is implementing a wind power development project and a few private workshops are involved in the fabrication of wind pumps for irrigation purposes.
Nepal has many opportunities in alternative energy sources and it is important too for controlling environmental degradation and health hazards. The only way for clean energy revolution is a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The alternative use of renewable sources of energy like water, wind, biomass, solar can make a greater difference. Not only in Nepal but also in all part of the world can reduce environmental degradation and climate change by adopting clean energy. We can individually conserve the energy by turning off lights, computer, video games and other electrical appliances when not in use. Limiting the use of air conditioning, buying equipment that uses less electricity can be a solution from individual effort. We can take public transportation instead of cars to reduce air pollution. Use of bio briquette rather than LPG gas, solar energy and wind energy in high commercial areas can be best for controlling climate change. Climate change is Earth’s greatest problem and our effort is highly required for saving mother EARTH. Then why not start from today?