Solar Technology, Nepal’s fuel Crisis and China

Momo, baboo shoot, China and Nepal

In UK, if I want to cook something ‘Nepali’ like momo,   I have to go to Chinese grocery for half and Indian grocery for half of the ingredients. This reminds me the fact that Nepal is between China and India. China is also Nepal’s neighbour, not just India. Historic Nepal shared its spices, gold, silk, Sagarmatha/chomolongma, Pagoda, Buddhism and brotherhood with the Tibetans and Chinese along with boarder.

Forget about the ‘authentic’ bamboo shoot cooked in mom’s style brought from the Chinese grocery; I want to watch a movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon – an old Bollywood movie to remind me of high school days. This is modern Nepali either in diaspora or in the allays of Asan, we talk about Shah Rukh Khan, our children speak in half Hindi half Nepali, our Phagu is Holi, Tihar is Diwali, our life is connected with the modern India like never before. Our cultural assimilation with India is growing faster than speed of Lhasa Express.

Culture and civilization changes anywhere and in today’s global world it’s impossible to stop; it’s just about maintaining balance of inward and outward influence. I am not here to talk about the culture here either. I want to talk about household energy.

Solar Power

Recently Nepal is having a fuel crisis which was triggered by what Nepali mainstream media call due to Indian blockade in boarder and what India calls due to protests in Nepal India boarders. Whatever the reason is, time will tell one day. But for today, Nepal needs to move on. Although rest of Nepal seems to be moving on in some way, Kathmandu is getting paralysed slowly. In Kathmandu, without the Oil from India there’s no drinking water, no motors on road and gas to cook.

We have seen and heard a lot of government proposals, a lot of political announcements and news about the hydroelectricity and big projects and this will continue and be heard even more around election times.

But is there something affordable and quick fix to today’s energy crisis of Kathmandu and Nepal? The answer could be solar energy. The property level solar retrofit could be affordable and quick solution for middle class Nepali (without government subsidies) and for all households (with government initiatives).

http://www.suryaecosolar.com/solar-package.php#residential has listed some affordable package of solar system for residential property. As I looked at the price list, it is reasonably affordable for a middle class household in Kathmandu. If there is any little initiative from the government, this price can go tangibly low and become affordable to most of householders. There are few other private companies as well who install small scale solar http://www.swogun.org.np/ ,

China is the boss of Solar Technology

Here, it is important to remember that we have another neighbour which is not India. It is China. Sometimes Nepali people concern too much about politics and Salman Khan; we don’t plan how to cook rice for the meal when Indian Oil Corporation’s gas doesn’t cross boarder for some reason. The politicians say they will airlift oil from China or Bangladesh and we wait for that eating Wai Wai.

Nepal has now a chance to turn fuel crisis into opportunity to shift focus into renewable energy, especially solar energy. China is world leader in solar energy with 33 gigawatts by the end of 2014 http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-11-06/chinas-solar-power-push .

The interesting and applicable part of China’s solar energy technology in Nepal is that the latest Chinese solar energy comes from roof-top installations rather than large-scale projects. Private businesses in Nepal have this opportunity to work with the Chinese for bringing solar technology in Nepal. The roof top, small property level measures are extremely affordable and quick.

And government should focus on the long term affordable energy like solar and hydroelectricity rather than fooling people by the nonsense talk of airlifting oil. And in case government is able to buy oil from China, this is not sustainable and no one can guarantee that like India, China won’t stop giving oil. But if we can bring technology and if we can install solar panels in our rooftops, they will remain here no matter the rulers of Singha Durbar or Delhi or Beijing are angry or not. In china the government policy has made it possible that Chinese construction Industry and solar industry work closely in order to achieve the goal and improve in the future. Nepal can learn a lot from China about both solar energy policy and solar technology. Recently there was news about the Chinese interest on solar energy in Nepal http://www.ratopati.com/aakhabar/9047/ . If this news is true, with the wise decision Nepal government and private sector should work on it for long term benefit.

Yes Nepal Government gives huge subsidies on solar!

Many of us know very well about the winner of Dance India Dance, about the bio data of KP Oli and Prachanda however we have no idea that Nepal government gives 75 % subsidies of total installation cost if you want to install solar panel and meet criteria. Nepal Government gives huge subsidies in solar and other renewable energy generation although it is limited in scale and the process could be hectic and you would want to burn Modi’s effigy for not providing gas instead of dealing with the corrupt official and hectic process of installation.

See the appendix for Nepal government renewable energy policy initiative summary (actually Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal’s government !!!)

Some FAQ about property level solar http://www.bre.co.uk/nsc/page.jsp?id=3522

Where to install?

Solar technologies are commonly installed as an add-on to existing buildings but can also be ground mounted or integrated into the building. Retrofit: This is generally in the form of on-roof (in addition to existing roof fabric) mounted PV modules or solar thermal collectors on pitched roofs.

How long do solar modules last?

Commonly solar module manufacturers are offering 20 – 25 year warranties on their products.  Solar modules manufacturers commonly guarantee that their panels will be at least 80% efficient after 20 years and recent studies have shown that some will exceed this– there are solar PV installations that were installed in the 70s that are still producing electricity today!

Do solar power systems require much maintenance?

Well-designed systems require practically no maintenance. Modules mounted at less than 15o will have more issues with soiling (dirt build up), as will panels in flight paths and near the sea. Clean solar modules help to keep systems working efficiently. Always consult your system operation manual for the safest way to access your solar modules and the best method to clean them, strong detergents can often damage the surface of modules

Which solar PV cell technology is better?

The cell technology refers to the materials and techniques used to construct the solar cells. There are many varieties of cell technology, each have advantages and disadvantages. Traditionally, silicon based technologies (monocrystalline and polycrystalline) have been able to achieve higher efficiencies, ranging between 13% -20%.

Thin film technology efficiencies range between 4% -14%. Thin film technologies are more efficient in higher temperatures and perform well in diffuse light

Hybrid technologies are also available, combining multiple solar cell technologies to improve the performance of a single solar module through a range of sunlight conditions

Is there are a minimum or maximum size for a solar system?

There is no limit to the size of solar power system you can install, however, with large retrofit systems being installed on roofs it is essential that the structural integrity of the building is assessed for the potential wind loading of the solar PV system.

Finally look at the following summary for what Nepal government is doing to help you install renewable energy :

Nepal government Renewable Energy Subsidy Policy

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