Varied interests in the energy and power sector viz., CDM, carbon rating, Monitoring & Evaluation, Energy Management, Rural Development; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related matters; Demand Side Management (DSM), Energy Audits, Distributed Power Generation (Biomass, Wind,Solar and Small Hydro), Participatory Management.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Renewable biogas provides clean, affordable energy for rural households in Nepal

Renewable biogas provides clean, affordable energy for rural households in Nepal

Biogas runs on manure and water, fed through a mixer, and produces a clear, bright flame.
  • The Nepal Climate Change conference concluded that technology should be utilized towards development.
  • Many households in Nepal lack electricity and use traditional energy sources.
  • Biogas is a clean, renewable, and sustainable source of energy.

September 21, 2009 - Many ideas were exchanged during the Climate Change Conference held in Kathmandu on August 31, 2008. One of the conclusions that were reached in the Final Statement was that clean technologies should be developed and transferred with a view to ensure green development. One example of this has flourshed in Nepal, where access to affordable and environmentally sustainable energy in remote mountainous areas is scarce. 

Most households use traditional energy sources for cooking and heating, such as firewood or agricultural residue, and only 14 percent of the population has access to electricity. The high demand for firewood has caused problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, and flooding. Firewood also takes a disproportionately long time to collect and its use results in indoor air pollution, which can diffuse across the home and affect every member of the family.

Biogas Support Program

Since the early 1990s, the Government of Nepal (GoN) with donor support has been promoting the construction of biogas plants as a way to bring cleaner, more affordable energy to rural households.

"Biogas plants convert animal and human waste into a clean source of cooking fuel – thereby removing the need to use wood, dried dung, and fossil fuel based sources of energy," explains Karin Kemper, Sector Manager for Social, Environment and Water Resources in the South Asia Region. "The biogas byproduct can also be used as a natural fertilizer to increase agricultural yields."

Despite a decade-long conflict and political uncertainty caused by regime change, Nepal's Biogas Support Program has achieved impressive results. It is now in its fourth phase (BSP-IV), and has helped to construct over 200,000 biogas plants since inception.

To help scale up BSP-IV, the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA), a Bank-administered global program, has provided a US$5 million grant that will subsidize construction of an additional 37,000 plants, mainly in more remote and inaccessible areas where construction costs are higher and the population is poorer.

GPOBA made its first payment of $592,200 to the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) on Nepal in July 2009 for successful delivery of 4,772 independently verified new biogas plants built in calendar year 2008.

This support for expanded use of biogas is consistent with the Bank's interim strategy for Nepal, which focuses on fostering peace and economic development, including through more equitable access to services.

"The project builds on Nepal's impressive track record with mainstreaming biogas plants as a practical and affordable solution to energy problems in rural areas," says Susan Goldmark, Country Director for Nepal. "This is a small but important step in improving the lives of rural Nepalis."

Innovative Financing Mechanism

The Bank is part of a unique partnership supporting BSP-IV that involves the GoN, bilateral donors, GPOBA, and the Community Development Carbon Fund (CDCF) which is purchasing carbon emissions reductions from bundles of previously constructed plants.

"This is the first program to combine carbon finance and output-based aid (OBA), both results-based mechanisms which tie payments to actual verified achievements," explains Patricia Veevers-Carter, GPOBA Program Manager.

The scheme involves public and private partners, including AEPC, the NGO Biogas Sector Partnership Nepal (BSP-Nepal), and private biogas construction companies. GPOBA subsidizes biogas plants with a capacity up to 8m3. The subsidies are paid after independent verification that the plants are being continually used. Beneficiaries are able to receive assistance from several microfinance facilities operating in the country and are responsible for operating and maintaining the plants, built to last 20 years, thus ensuring ownership and sustainability.

Benefits for the Households

For Jeremy Levin, Senior Technical Specialist in the South Asia Region and TTL for both the GPOBA and CDM projects, "This project brings many benefits to rural households, the most important of which is access to a clean, modern energy source." He lists others, including:

• Improvements in health for women and children because of reduced exposure to indoor air pollution.
• Economic savings due to reduced household expenditure on cooking and lighting fuels.
• Time savings as less time is needed for gathering firewood, cooking, and cleaning.
• Improved sanitary conditions, as more households are connecting latrines to the biogas plants, thus increasing production.
• Improved soil fertility when bio-slurry is used as a fertilizer.

"The successful promotion of this renewable source of energy is a powerful example of how climate change mitigation projects can deliver significant on-the-ground benefits to the people who need them most," Levin adds.

Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
+91 99161 29728


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