26 Feb - 3 Mar 2016 #797

Leaving footprints

“It is unfortunate that a country like Nepal with such a huge potential in renewable energy has to import dirty energy from a country that relies mainly on coal-burning thermal power."
Sahina Shrestha

One of the highlights of Prime Minister KP Oli’s meeting with his counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi this week was the inauguration of the 140km cross border transmission line.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is already importing 200 MW from India, and the new power line will make it possible to immediately add another 80MW, which can be increased to 600MW by 2017.

The additional power will reduce electricity rationing in Nepal, but experts say that since the imported power is thermal it will increase Nepal’s carbon footprint and that it is not in its national interest.

“It is unfortunate that a country like Nepal with such a huge potential in renewable energy has to import dirty energy from a country that relies mainly on coal-burning thermal power,” says water resource analyst Ratna Sansar Shrestha.

Climate change expert Manjeet Dhakal agrees that even if the electricity is generated from burning coal in India, it could be counted as Nepal’s greenhouse gas emission. “It shows that the government and its advisers are not well versed in what is going on in the world,” says Dhakal.

Nepal’s present carbon footprint of 0.2 tons per capita is one of the lowest in the world. By next year one-third of Nepal’s national grid will be from imported thermal energy.

Environmentalist Bhusan Tuladhar says that the decision to import power may reduce Nepal’s diesel consumption, which has tripled in the last five years because of generators, but warns that it may ultimately reduce the urgency to invest in renewable hydroelectricity.

“When we can import power so easily, the government may get complacent,” says Tuladhar. “We have to aim for energy security and to generate enough renewable energy for our own need and for export.”

Energy economist and former water resource minister Dipak Gyawali says that the new transmission line comes from an area of power deficit in Bihar, and India could turn it off anytime it wants when it needs the electricity to meet its own domestic demand.

Gyawali added: “The transmission line is treasonous. It is an attempt to push Nepal into a neo-colonial development path.”

Read Also:

Wired, Editorial

The fine print, Puru Shah

Right climate to trade carbon, Bhrikuti Rai

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