Harnessing wind power ‘not easy’Even though Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has floated the idea of promoting wind energy to address the power crisis, the government, however, is not in a position to take immediate initiatives on this front.
Even though Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has floated the idea of promoting wind energy to address the power crisis, the government, however, is not in a position to take immediate initiatives on this front.
Officials at both Investment Board Nepal (IBN) and Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) said there has not been any proper feasibility study for big-scale wind energy projects and the country lacks policy and regulatory frameworks such as licence regime, royalty fees, technical guidelines and wind tariff modalities, among others.
The only significant step taken so far is the IBN has sought pre-feasibility study, technical design, cost estimation and business plan from Gurkha’s UK Limited, a company that had submitted a proposal for generating 300MW wind energy within a year and 3,000MW in three years. “We have sought details about their plan,” said IBN CEO Radhes Pant.
According to IBN, developing wind energy needs wind mapping data, which is still not there. “We need at least one-year wind mapping data of particular place where such projects are to be developed,” said Pant.
IBN officials said they have also not found any feasibility studies for large scale wind energy projects. “Most of the studies done so far are for rural electrification purposes,” said one of the officials.
According to AEPC, the Solar and wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) project, 2007, had made an attempt to map the wind resource potential in Nepal. The assessment had shown a good prospect of wind energy development with a power generation prediction of about 3,000MW. The study, however, had conducted the study at places with 10km from the national power transmission grid.
“However, it was a macro-level study and no detailed study has been conducted after that,” Ram Prasad Dhital, executive director at AEPC, said. “We need to do serious homework if we are to initiate the task of promoting wind energy.”
A preliminary study conducted by the National Atmospheric Resource and Environment Research Laboratory at the Central Department of Physics, Tribhuvan University had stated Western and Far-western regions of the country have vast wind energy resources that could be extracted commercially. The study has shown Dadeldhura and Darchula in Far-west and Mustang, Palpa and Gulmi in Western Region have hundreds of megawatts of wind power potential.
Former National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Raj Pokhrel said the main challenge for wind energy promotion was the lack of a tangible policy. “The government does not have the policy regarding terms and conditions, facilities to be given by the state and Power Purchase Agreement rate among others.”
Another issue is related to logistics. Since wind energy generation requires installation huge wind turbines, shipping such large equipment to the northern belt, where the wind power potential high, is difficult due to poor road infrastructure.
“The infrastructure development cost for wind power is usually lower compared to hydropower. The case, however, is not same as far as Nepal is concerned as they are several constraints, mostly regarding to road,” said Pokhrel, who is also former AEPC executive director.
He said given’s Nepal geographical situation, the logistics will have to be shipped via high-capacity choppers. This means, the cost of wind energy would be higher than that of hydro electricity.
Despite such hindrances, Pokhrel said the country should promote wind power. “Nepal is vulnerable to natural disasters. Hence, there needs to be 10-15 percent support of alternative energy, including wind and solar,” he said.