Population in Nepal has been increasing steadily at the rate of 1.6% per year. Similarly, the standard of living has been improving to more energy intensive in terms of electrical appliances and automobiles. This has led to a substantial increase in demand of energy by about 7-9% each year, or roughly 50 MW/year.
However, the current scenario of our country indicates that our energy production is not on par with our energy consumption. In fact, we are way under supplied: the average of 15 hours of load shedding a day speaks for itself.
We know our country is extremely rich in terms of water resources: 40,000 MW of economically viable hydro power potential, but are we utilizing what we have? Are we able to exploit our abundant resources? Apparently not. The present situation is that Nepal has developed only approximately 600 MW of hydro power. Therefore, a big chunk of the economically feasible generation has not been acquired yet. Dependence on the run-off hydro power, fossil fuel and additional import of energy from India for power generation have affected our budget balance.
A meager supply of energy has been a great challenge for our development and it will continue to be so if similar situation prevails in the future. The continual failure of power generation has grossly affected the economy, causing a crawling effect on the developmental growth. Therefore, there should be an insightful long term approach towards a balance between the increasing a demand and adequate energy development program.
A diversion towards other alternative sources of energy is a must if we need to address the burgeoning energy demand. How about wind? A high scale of power can be generated from wind energy in a relatively shorter span of time than hydro power. Wind energy is at present a major source of energy production in most of the countries all over the world, with a total installed capacity of 238,351 MW as of end of 2011 (Global wind energy council). Our neighboring countries, on the other hand, have exploited their wind potential. India has installed 16,078 MW of wind power as of 31 March 2011 and stands fifth largest in the world. Meanwhile, China has the installed capacity of 62733 MW (Global wind statics, 2011), and leads the race of wind power generation. China seeks to obtain 15% of its total energy need via wind by 2020.
Nepal also has a good prospect for harnessing wind power. Though we lack a detailed Wind Atlas, available data shows the potential area of wind power in the country to be about 6074 sq. km with wind power density greater than 300 watt/m2. More than 3000 MW of electricity can be generated at 5 MW per sq km (Department of Hydrology and Meteorology). If we achieve that capacity on our grid it would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and give us a credibility as a green country. The world out there is making a huge contribution to the development of clean energy, and we need to capitalize on our wind resources to reduce power shortage in Nepal. Unfortunately, the government has yet to come up with plans and policies to promote wind power projects in Nepal. Maybe it is time now, better late than never.