Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Inverter import ban ill-considered

The government has banned the import of inverters, effective last Wednesday. It has reasoned that the inverters, which charge batteries so power is available during load-shedding hours, are inefficient and are exacerbating load-shedding. The Energy Ministry also intends to discourage the use of inverters by implementing the ban on importing inverters. The Nepal Electricity Authority also claims that if inverters were totally banned, load-shedding could be reduced by two hours daily.

In the last three years, 30 brands of inverters have been imported into the Nepali market. The inverter business is worth about Rs 500 million a year. Prices range from Rs 4000 to the hundreds of thousands. Though on the surface the ban on inverter imports appears to be positive, it only reveals the short-sightedness of those who allowed the growing use of inverters all these years. It's not as if Nepal's power shortfall, and the accompanying load-shedding, is anything new.

The government's decision has meant that the price of some imported inverters has shot up; this will only encourage the black market, which will thrive across the open border with India and the black market across the Nepal-China border at Tatopani. Smugglers will benefit - Nepali customers will suffer.

An energy use policy is imperative that takes into account the minimum necessities of citizens, such as the use of a couple of CFL bulbs. Solar energy should be encouraged, and the 'solar plan' aimed at rural and urban residents should be further developed and made attractive to customers. It is also key to plug the leakage of upto 30 per cent from the national electricity grid, find ways to link small power producers to the grid, and make arrangements with neighbouring countries to boost supply.

1. Arthur
Solar power is only useful where the grid does not reach - and even then only for a minor reduction in the fuel costs of local generators because power is also needed when there is little sunlight during the monsoon season. It is always more expensive per kilowatt hour than grid power.

The power shortfall that results in load sharing can only be resolved by generating more grid power. Both inverters and banning inverters are products of the failure to do that and proposals for urban solar power to supplement grid power are a pure waste of funds that should be invested in building power stations.

2. Ram

Whoa! Arthur the energy expert! You are a true Renaissance Man! :D


3. Arthur
One does not need to be an "energy expert" to understand this very simple matter. Eliminating load shedding requires generating more grid power. But yes, there is something pre-modern about both the gullibility of people fooled by other ideas and the belief you need "experts" to think about such things.

4. Ram

There is something pretentious about both the audacity to pontificate on message boards and the inability to recognize humor. :)

I will contradict myself now. Agree with you on the whole belief on the need for "experts". Citizens have both the right and duty to be vigilant of said "experts" and question them. A crucial aspect of democratic soceity is dissent, no?

5. Arthur
Ram, it seems we are now in agreement.

6. jange
If the use of inverters are bad for the power situation and their import has been banned then it is only logical, and fair, that existing users of invertors should also be stopped from using the inverters. As the saying goes... lathalinga raja ko bhabhunga desh, sujhe na bujhe faansi farmaish...

Surely this calls for revolutionary action... some bhautik karbahi somewhere, anywhere,  should solve this problem.

7. jange
Would be very interesting to see the actual advice and calculations (of impact on loadshedding, not the other calc) on which this decision was based. Especially interesting would be to know whose idea it was and who initiated it and who carried it forward enthusiastically. And, of course, who stands to get financial benefits.

Cue for you, NT. Get your investigative glasses on!

8. Oli
If there is a problem than it is not the inverter the problem but the charger. You need an inverter to transform the power from the battery into 220V (inverter mode). When the grid is back the inverter is bypassed (unless you have an online UPS but then the problem is still the charger) and it goes into charging mode. How could someone off grid could use solar or wind to produce power without an inverter unless he/she uses 12V equipments ?

Banning inverter is against the promotion of wind or solar as a renewable energy. What could eventually be done is to ban the inverter/charger as used today in urban area where grid power is available but it is certainly wrong to ban inverter which are also used in rural area with no grid to power equipment from battery that have been charge using wind or photovoltaic.

It would be better to promote solar and wind in urban area. Promote grid tied inverter that coupled with solar could even produce enough and feed the grid.

9. Arthur
Oli you are quite right about the distinct functions of chargers and inverters. It is unclear what actual measure has been proposed since the article wrongly explains "the inverters, which charge batteries" and ends up by supporting solar power in urban areas. Perhaps it meant the "inverter/charger" you mention.

As explained in comment #1, I disagree with your proposal.

But perhaps we could agree that the main point of whatever the government announced is that it cannot do anything useful to actually produce more generated power, but still has to make "announcements" that it is doing "something". Just like the constitution, peace process etc etc.

10. power
solar energy is not as simple as everyone assumes to be.
Everyone seems to think that by just putting up pannels would bring about free energy in their homes, well, the key for solar energy to be successful will strongly depend on the comsumtion side, most people in Nepal just dont get what solar energy is all about....yes,the sun's energy is free...but to harness that magical power it is vital for the consumer to render his behavior and have a more efficient approach regarding consumption.
Nepal biggest problem is not hydro dams or power stations, but the means of transport....the GRID. 

11. Sandeep
Oli is absolutely correct that the chargers are the problem, specially the inefficient ones that also tend to be cheaper and thus, more prevalent in households. So, if the government wants to ban something, it should be the chargers, but putting a blanket ban on inverters means that those who are interested in adopting solar are now getting discouraged.

Power, don't you think that both increasing production and improving the grid should go hand in hand? Solar does have a higher cost of installation when you compare to hydro, however, solar installs in a fraction of time compared to hydro. For example, Nellis air force base in USA has a 15 megawatt solar power plant that was installed in ~6 months. Most solar power plants in the world today are in 10 to 30 megawatt range. Assuming we put even a couple of those within the next year, that's a pretty decent boost to our grid in a very short timeframe. (Full disclaimer: I work for a solar company in Nepal -

In our experience, most residential solar installs complete in 3 to 5 days. These systems connect directly to existing house wiring and can run most household appliances including TV, fridge, and water pump. However, this requires an inverter so that the DC electricity produces by solar gets converted to AC to connect directly to house wiring. So, we'd like to request the government to make a provision for solar inverters to be excepted from this ban.

12. Vril
Gentlemen !.. we are left with no choice than to go nuclear . 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)