August 14, 2022, Sunday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Govt and relevant institutions need to support studies on Hydrogen Fuel

The Nepal Weekly
June 28, 2022

In the international market, price of petroleum fuel is going up. Experts predict that it may go further high in near future.

As a consequence, petroleum product in Nepal is also increasing rapidly. It is intolerable to all walks of life these days. The price of petrol per litre is fixed at Rs. 199.00 and diesel at Rs. 192.00. The pressure of political parties, consumer forums and student unions the Government decided to reduce price of the fossil fuels cutting down the part of taxes. So as petrol is now available at 179 per litre and diesel at Rs. 163 per litre.  

During a meeting of the National Assembly on June 21, the Minister for Finance said that an automated price system for petroleum products has been implemented in the country since 2071 BS and the rise and fall of petroleum prices is being determined accordingly.

The prices of petro products are rapidly rising in the international market lately and till June 14 Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) losses was around Rs 50 billion and it’s due to its exporter, Indian Oil Corporation, was Rs 22 billion, according to Finance Minister. On the other hand, Government of Nepal and relevant institutions have been working for renewable energy technologies to replace fossil fuel uses. Electric transportation, cooking in electricity and electricity for industries are the targeted sectors. Also to be noted is that Nepal is currently generating 2200 Mega Watt from hydropower plants as per their installed capacity to generate in full capacity in the wet season.

Other technologies such as electricity generated by Solar PV technologies, wind and micro hydropower plants are also considered to connect to the national grid as well. 

Moreover, the government is looking forward to produce hydrogen fuel by utilising electricity generated by hydropower plants. The studies being conducted by Kathmandu University to this effect has been an attraction to the GoN.

The hydrogen fuel technology will support consuming hydropower to produce hydrogen fuel. This will be helpful in the wet season when electricity generation is not fully consumed in the country but producing hydrogen fuel will be an incentive. The product will be utilised in hydrogen fuel driven vehicles and industries. This will be significantly helpful to chemical fertiliser industries as well.

From another point of view, hydrogen fuel will contribute to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

In the global scenario, many developed countries are switching to hydrogen plants as a green energy source. 

In a discussion with officials of Green Hydrogen Lab (GHL), Kathmandu University, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma expressed his interest in installing a 100 MW hydrogen plant in the country. Although the concept is new in Nepal, the technology bears wider scopes of benefits. Minister Sharma stated that the government will hold talks with the Investment Board of Nepal to find interested investors in the segment. Dr.Biraj Singh Thapa, the leader of Green Hydrogen Lab team of KU, said they the university team have been holding talks with foreign organizations to install a 100 MW green hydrogen plant in the next one and a half years. According to him, nine kilos of pure water is needed to produce one kg of hydrogen fuel.

He said Nepal has high potential to produce hydrogen based electricity as the country has plenty of fresh water resources. “Therefore, it will be far cheaper to produce the energy through this technology in Nepal compared to similar other countries,” he added. 

The production of hydrogen fuel is economically feasible and environmentally wise, and will help to reduce fossil fuel dependency, said academicians and researchers engaged in Green Hydrogen Lab.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an inter-governmental organisation working in over 40 countries in the world, has extended its partnerships with the Energy Ministry, Nepal Electricity Authority and Kathmandu University to produce green hydrogen and ammonia for fertiliser production in the country.

In particular, the GGGI Nepal office says it signed memorandums with the Nepal Electricity Authority, Ministry of Energy, and the Kathmandu University to work together on green hydrogen and ammonia production for fertilisers in Nepal. 

Similarly, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) also had shown their interest and extended financial support for the studies being conducted by KU. Kathmandu University will be producing hydrogen fuel and also working on storage and end-use systems in the two-year project. It will also convert fossil fuel vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for demonstration purposes, as per the targets of the project.

The project will also provide recommendations to the government for policy guidelines for green hydrogen, emphasizing production, storage and end-use of green hydrogen as a future fuel for Nepal.