Small is Beautiful in Nepal
Nepal is developing small scale, affordable technologies--indigenously designed and based on traditional skillls--that are bringing renewable energy to many rural areas that have never had electricity before. Greater local control over resources is improving lives in Nepal while restoring natural resources.
Nepal has one of the highest per capital hydropower potentials in the world; and that potential is now being filled by micro-hydro plants with generating capacities varying from 5 to 500 kW. It is anticipated that by 2011, 15,000 kW will have been installed.
The micro-hydro project is being managed by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Nepal. Their first alternative energy project was to establish village biogas plants. Today there are over 180,000 plants creating electricity from farm waste.
A third project, promoted by The Center For Renewable Energy, has been the introduction of solar-based household lighting, using solar tukis--portable solar lamps that use white light emitting diode bulbs. The spread of solar power has allowed villagers to abandon their traditional kerosene lamps, thus eliminating a source of CO2. The solar panels used by the lamps can also be connected to an AM/FM radio.
More readily available communication has allowed for the spread of better medical knowledge which, combined with better vaccination coverage, has cut the infant mortality rate in half since 1990.
Forest regeration across the mid Himalaya has been another success story since the parliament returned control over these forests to local communities 17 years ago.
Major dam projects still being constructed of the Kosi and Karnali rivers, driven in part by the tremendous energy demand growth in India, but for rural Nepal, small, local projects are improving lives while protecting the environment.