[KATHMANDU] Nepal is set to finalise a draft national wind policy in the coming months, to harness wind energy's potential as a solution to its current energy crisis.
The policy, prepared by Nepal's national wind task force (NWTF), will be finalised in the next three months, said NWTF member Manoj Kumar Mishra at a national workshop on wind energy this week (31 January).
It aims to attract foreign investment for producing commercial wind turbines, protect the interests of local manufacturers for small wind turbines up to ten kilowatts, and construct a model wind farm project — a wind farm that produces more than 500 kilowatts of energy and can be used as a pilot research project for further investment in wind energy.
Nepal, whose capital Kathmandu experiences daily power cuts for an average of 11 hours, has a wind generation capacity of 3,000 megawatts, preliminary studies by the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (APEC) show.
Mishra said he expects wind energy to emerge as a cheaper renewable option for small households because Nepal can build wind turbines with local raw materials — unlike solar panels, which need to be imported.
Wind is more readily available in Nepal — for 18 hours a day — than the sun, which shines for an average of only seven hours. This means it can be tapped during winters when there is little sunshine after midday. Wind generation capacity is particularly high in the river corridors and mountain valleys that dot the country.
But current public and private investments remain below 40 kilowatts, with no individual turbine larger than ten kilowatts in capacity.
The country must initiate a systematic large-scale mapping of its wind resources, said Tri Ratna Bajracharya, director of the Center for Energy Studies at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.
Other unaddressed issues include tax regulation, land ownership, license distribution, government funds and subsidies for wind energy, and wind electricity tariff rates, said Mangal Das Maharjan, national project director at APEC.
Meanwhile, some non-government organisations (NGOs) and local firms have undertaken small-scale initiatives.
For example, Practical Action has built 18 small wind power plants of 100 watt and 200 watt capacity across the country. And in 2009, students at the Kathmandu Engineering College installed off-grid wind power systems — a wind turbine at their university premises and a 1.5 kilowatt turbine for a private resort in the Kathmandu valley.