Continuing with the series of “wind energy stories” from around the world, in association with Global Wind Day, Robert van Waarden travels to Nepal to meet Aruna Awale at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre.
“I have seen a bright future for wind energy in Nepal, because a lot of wind energy potential has been predicted,” says Aruna Awale, an employee of the wind energy department at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) in Kathmandu, Nepal.
From the window of her office, she can see one of the few operating wind turbines in Nepal. It is a small Maglev vertical axis turbine and it turns rapidly in the wind that blows through the Kathmandu valley. It is a sign of more to come if Awale has anything to do with it.
Awale works on data and implementation projects, co-ordinates meetings and conferences, and meets with national and international stakeholders when she works with the AEPC. She credits her experience at the AEPC for giving her more confidence and a huge amount of unique experience. She especially enjoys the opportunity to travel internationally for seminars, the highlight of which for her is often a visit to a wind farm.
Nepal faces several problems in the implementation of large-scale wind energy, but interestingly, one of those isn’t finance, as many development banks, institutions, and companies are ready to step forward. Instead Awale mentions the complex geography and the insufficient infrastructure as the main challenge. The small roads, or entire lack thereof, are often not suited for carrying large equipment to high windy points. The spectacular but difficult geography makes studies and installations more difficult. In order to fully grow in this energy sector, this challenge will have to be overcome.
Ms. Awale thinks one way to do that is to start smaller. Citing an implemented pilot project by the Asian Development Bank, Ms. Awale remains confident that wind energy will have a great impact on small communities in Nepal. In the Dhaubadi BDC of Nawalparasi District, 46 households are now connected to electricity by a small wind turbine. This has transformed the village and made it the envy of neighbouring villages: now everyone wants a wind turbine.
“With small-scale wind energy, thousands of villages can benefit from wind power where no energy is available, not even for lights.” says Ms. Awale.
Ms. Awale has been working with the AEPC for almost a decade and hopes to see some of the available 3,000 MW potential in Nepal developed, recognising that it will change the life of many of her fellow Nepalis. For many of them, the answer to electricity problems and some of the attached poverty issues may simply be blowing in the wind.
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