Nepal’s government is preparing to make the installation of solar power systems compulsory on all government and commercial buildings in Kathmandu.
The Himalayan Times reports a source at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development said building permits and design approvals for government, commercial and corporate buildings will only be given the nod if the applicant parties agree to generate at least a quarter of the total energy the building consumes a day through installation of solar panel system – or install a minimum 1.5kW system; whichever is higher.
The initiative is expected to result in 20MW of electricity generation capacity.
It might not sound like a great deal, but the country’s average annual per capita electricity consumption is currently about 130 kWh.
The electrification rate in Nepal is only around 55%, and what electricity supply there is can be very intermittent. Even in Kathmandu, blackouts are very common.
Nepal relies on hydro-electric power for mains electricity; which is becoming increasingly unreliable during dry months and is predicted to become even more so as an effect of climate change and demand. However, Nepal has huge hydro potential – it just hasn’t been tapped.
Nepal saw a 7.56 percent growth in peak hour electricity consumption during the last fiscal year. According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, on average load-shedding occurred 11 hours a day during the driest months – January, February and April.
Late last year, the World Bank approved a US$130 million credit facility to help address energy shortages in the country through the Nepal Grid Solar and Energy Efficiency Project.
Kathmandu isn’t the only place in the world making solar panels mandatory as a way to help address energy deficits. For example, the government of Haryana, a state in north India, made the installation of solar power on all buildings occupying 418 square metres or more compulsory in September this year.
Closer to home, and although on a much smaller scale and for different reasons, solar will be on the rooftop of every house in Denman Prospect, a new suburb of Canberra. Elsewhere in Australia, an initial study could lead to a new town in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley that will be entirely off-grid and powered by renewables.