By Purna N. Ranjitkar
Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, PamphaBhusal emphasised the use of electricity generated in the country for electric vehicles to run. This will reduce the consumption of imported fuel to make the national economy strong. She, in many occasions, had also talked on need of promoting electric cooking as well.
She states that Nepal is spending around Rs. 2 billion annually for importing of petroleum products including diesel and petrol and Rs. 40 billion for importing of LPG (cooking gas).
She mentiones need for increasing the consumption of electricity for industry, transportation, and household purposes, which would avoid wastage of electricity and also contribute to the national economy. The government has given high priority to the promotion of electric vehicles, she added. She also stressed that the use of electric vehicles should be increased to reduce the impact of climate change and create employment opportunities in the country.
Minister Bhushal, the other day, said that the government is seriously discussing on tax free on import of electric vehicles which will encourage more electric cars to ply reducing the consumption of fossil fuel.
Similarly, Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kul Man Ghising also stressing that now the country should go for electric cooking and electric transportation. Providing electricity to industries is also in the priorities, he adds.
As a matter of fact Nepal is generating 2,000 MW of electricity by hydropower projects and a few megawatts by Solar PV and other technologies.
The country had recorded a little more than 1,600 MW as a peak demand recently on a fine day. But the peak demand on Laxmi Puja, the festival of lights (2021 November 04) was 1,270 MW.
Earlier years, the country did not generate enough electricity even in the wet season. So, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) imports electricity from India to manage the demand.
These days, Nepal Electricity Authority is working hard on managing electricity supply in the dry season when electricity generation by most of hydropower plants owned by the government or private sector goes down to 30% of their installed capacity.
Regarding electric cooking the government agencies and development partnering organisations are putting efforts to encourage users to go for electric cooking. So as subsidy schemes are developed for selected locations prioritising use of induction cook tops or infrared cook tops. However, the experts say that transmission and distribution systems have to be upgraded to match the electric cooking. Likewise, quality of electricity supply should be good and uninterrupted in 24 hours and seven days. Easy available of repair and maintenance of the cooking device is also equally import for users to be fully relied on electric cooking.
The budget of the current fiscal year (2021-22) had well prioritised electric vehicles to be available in Nepali market suitable to the users’ affordability. That was totally halted in the last fiscal year when the tax rate was made almost similar to the tax of importing of fossil fuel run vehicles. Now the EV market in Nepal is well doing as electric cars, mini cars, SUVs, cross-overs are available. The importers have a kind of competition among themselves as most liked electric vehicles in world are attempting to capture the largest share in the market. It is sure that some other best known automakers’ EVs will be available soon in Nepali market.
However, Nepal is too slow in promoting electric vehicles for public transportation. The government has to find out the better remedies for more people to be benefitted from electric mobility. The public transport operating companies are less interested in electric buses to operate as electric buses are expensive in comparison to fossil fuel buses for public transportation. That means the government has to provide easy financing and subsidy on purchasing of electric buses to make entrepreneur friendly. The fund collected as Pollution Control Tax on every litre of petrol and diesel may be utilised for this problem to address.
Nepal also had eyed to sale excess electricity to India but this was not successful due to price matter and stately formalities. Moreover, Nepal and India also had an understanding of Energy Banking under which Nepal would send electricity to India in the wet season and would take back in the dry season. That also did not take place due to unknown reason. Similarly, Bangladesh has been showing interest to buy electricity from Nepal that also did not happen due to proper work out for transmission via India. However, Nepal has been exporting 39 MW of electricity to India these days which is a small portion of spill over electricity. Industrialists and business communities are saying that the government should provide electricity to industrial sector at comfortable price. That will help grow industries in the country and contribute to national economy. Employment generation and use of locally available raw materials will be other benefits.