By Purna N. Ranjitkar
Although there are a number of themes prevail in energy sector, Energy security, Energy efficiency and Energy mix are three burning subjects the experts and professionals have been discussing, interacting or expressing opinions for the effective takeover of the subject to state policies and implementation methodologies.
These three aspects bear importance and significances individually. These key subjects have been brought into studies and strategies since around a decade back.
Simply taking, the three subjects are understood as following.
Energy security means having stable access to energy sources on a timely, sustainable and affordable basis. Access to energy is not only crucial in supporting the provision of basic needs – such as food, lighting, water, and essential health care, but it is first and foremost a precondition to economic growth, political stability and prosperity.
Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to perform the same task that means, eliminating energy waste. Energy efficiency brings a variety of benefits: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand for energy imports, and lowering our costs on a household and economy-wide level.
The term “energy mix ” refers to the combination of the various primary energy sources used to meet energy needs in a given geographic region. It includes fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal ), nuclear energy and the many sources of renewable energy (wood and other bio-energies, hydro, wind, solar and geothermal ). These primary energy sources are used, for example, for generating power, providing fuel for transportation and heating and cooling residential and industrial buildings.
The composition of the energy mix varies greatly from one country or region to the next and can change significantly depending on the period.
Variables include, the availability of usable resources domestically or the possibility of importing them, the extent and type of energy needs to be met and policy choices determined by historical, economic, social, demographic, environmental and geopolitical factors.
However, there is one other aspect to consider understand more clearly is ‘Energy Mix Versus Power Generation Mix’. That is described in global perspective as the energy mix should not be confused with the power generation mix (also known as the electricity mix). The power generation mix describes the breakdown of energy sources used specifically to generate electricity. For this reason, it does not take into account issues surrounding energy use in transportation and large segments of industry and housing. This statement is equally considerable to Nepal’s context.
A number of policies to all three subjects have been formulated in Nepal to these contexts. Experts say the government had formulated enough in number and covering dimensions, but implementation modalities are not developed and knowledge and courage to well implement the policies are still lacking. So energy sector has yet to bring good days as desired.
Although experts and professionals mention that there is a crowd of policies and plans on energy sector (and others as well) to develop, a segment of experts see that existing policies need some serious revision to match the contemporary contexts and circumstances. For example, solar pv electricity generation farms are not allowed in the arable land. That should be amended on the ground of agri-voltaic technology to applicate. That means opaque type solar panels should not be allowed but non-opaque type pole mount system should be allowed which support the farms to generate 80% of energy and 80% crop yield from the designed land area. Further to explain, ground mount solar panels give only solar energy and crop yield is totally ignored.
Regarding Energy mix ratio, in policies say, 5% to 10% of the amount of grid connected energy may be allowed for energy mix. That means the licensing authorities may stop, energy mix may be stopped not exceeding 5%.
Moreover, energy mix ratio as given is too limited. Keeping in view practices in other countries and requirement of Nepal’s circumstances, the ratio should be extended to 20% or more.
Energy efficiency had been touched to a number of sub-headings. However, electric vehicles have been given a nominal touch.
Nepal government is prioritising electric vehicle promotion by rolling back the tax rule of previous fiscal year budget which totally halted growth of electric vehicles in country. The provisions now have worked to grow electric vehicles. But this had helped develop privately owned cars and SUVs, two wheelers mainly. That means the policies for growth of electric vehicles for public transportation is yet to take a good speed.
A large number of fossil-fuel driven vehicles may be converted to electric drive, once the government formulate guidelines for conversion as provisioned in the ‘Environment Friendly Vehicles and Transportation Policy, 2071 BS. That will contribute saving of a huge amount of fossil fuel to reduce which also contribute significantly to consumption of electricity generated by renewable technologies in the country.
More opportunities may be explored by working out in depth and details which help the challenges and gaps to be addressed well by all stakeholders working together for the common causes. Therefore, reasons for revision and reconsideration in energy sector should be well addressed.