Barbara Adams Talk Series – Episode 2

Energy for All in Nepal by 2025: What Will It Take

On February 22, 2018, Barbara Foundation organized Barbara Adams Talk Series –Episode 2, concluding with an energizing deliberation between distinguished panelists. The discussion titled “Energy for All in Nepal by 2025: What Will It Take” focused on Nepal’s energy potential, and a range of energy options available, dissecting issues that pose challenges to harness and make energy accessible to all Nepalis.

The panel included distinguished guests – Mr. Kul Man Ghising, Managing Director of NEA; Dr. Arbind Kumar Mishra, Member, National Planning Commission; Dr. Govind Raj Pokharel, former Vice-Chair, National Planning Commission; and Dr. Kusum Shakya, Head of Department, Tribhuvan University. TV journalist Dil Bhusan Pathak moderated the discussion.

The two-and-half-hour-long program saw an enthusiastic participation of over 150 individuals representing different professional fields, and a strong presence of media.

Mr. Kul Man Ghising was the Keynote Speaker, and made a keynote presentation titled “Electricity for all in Nepal by 2025”.

Stating that the current electricity distribution system in the Kathmandu Valley will be unable to handle the increased load in the next two years, he stressed that NEA must take immediate measures to improve distribution in the Valley.

According to him, this problem arises due to fragile nature of existing distribution network, and a regular tripping of electricity supply. Pointing out that the Valley’s current distribution network cannot support a load of more than 400 MW, NEA’s plan, he explained, is to upgrade it so that it can support up to 2,000 MW. This will be done by – developing new substations, upgrading the existing ones and replacing overhead cables with underground cables.

When it comes to securing investment to harness high potential hydropower, he suggested a possibility of raising tax on telecom services (telephone and internet related services). He said that the telecom service sector is one of the biggest revenue collectors since its business amounts to over 2 kharba in a year. Hence, if government levies 10 percentage additional tax in this amount, additional 20 billion rupees can be collected annually. This amount is sufficient to build a hydropower project of 100 MW, he said.

He informed that currently the government levies Rs 5 each from every liter of petrol, diesel and aviation fuels for Budhigandaki Hydroelectricity Project. The total revenue collected on a daily basis thus amounts to 3 crores 35 lakhs. Since consumption of petroleum products is set to increase in the coming days, a total of over Rs 15 arab will be collected annually. This amount then can be used to construct 100 MW hydroelectricity project annually.

Mr. Ghising also stressed on the need to diversify energy sector by including solar and wind energy to the existing hydro energy and to promote clean and cheaper energy sources. The cost of using induction cooking gas is cheaper than LPG cooking gas and petrol, he said.

NEA’s focus, he said, should be to provide sustainable and affordable electricity to the people. Due to the rapid development, the need for electricity will only continue to increase, so there should be others energy in the energy mix of the country.

Dr. Arbind Kumar Mishra, Member, National Planning Commission, stressed on the need of expanding transmission lines to reach every local units so electricity is accessible to the locals. Although it is impossible to connect every house to the grid, at least 95% of the houses should be connected to the grid and should be able to get access to clean electricity.

Dr. Govind Raj Pokharel, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, opined that the NEA should diversify the mix of energy. He said the cost of solar energy has been decreasing significantly, and so the NEA must consider including it in its energy mix.

Dr. Kusum Shakya, Head of Department, Central Department of Economics, TU, said it is important for energy policies to ensure provision of clean energy sources to females who are central to domestic use of energy. As the talk about gender equality is sweeping across the world, providing women with clean energy should be core component to fulfill the sustainable development goals (SDG) set by the UN. She argued that in order to make clean energy accessible for women, it is crucial for energy policies to make SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).