The Challenges and Opportunities of Electricity Access in Nepal
Deep in the heart of Asia, the tiny country of Nepal is a poster child for the challenges and opportunities of electricity access. The 44% of Nepalese with access to electricity have such access for less than 8 hours a day. Seventeen million others have no access at all, which has prompted the World Bank to declare that the country is “experiencing an energy crisis of unprecedented severity, caused by years of underinvestment and sharp growth in electricity demand.”
With the support of the United Nations Development Program, the government of Nepal launched its Rural and Renewable Energy Program in 2012, with the goal of increasing electricity access from renewable resources to 30% in the next 20 years. The climb will be steep – two years ago Nepal obtained just 1% of its total energy from renewables. Yet the opportunities are boundless – in 2009, Nepal’s total installed renewable energy capacity of 710 megawatts was less than 2% of its total potential renewable energy capacity of 45,000 megawatts.
One of the three major components of the Renewable Energy Program is the development of off-grid solar photovoltaic energy sources. On-site, off-grid solar energy production is a logical choice in the country’s mountainous terrain, which has challenged the installation of traditional networks of grid-based power lines.
The educational and healthcare benefits of bringing power to local communities across Nepal are manifold. Access to electricity is proven to improve school attendance, enhance study habits, and augment literacy rates. Medical clinics will be able to provide x-rays and other basic healthcare services locally, so villagers will no longer have to trek long distances for them.
Sunfarmer wants to advance education and healthcare in Nepal by developing reliable sources of solar energy throughout the country.
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