Wind dreams in Nepal

Continuing with the series of “wind energy stories” from around the world, Robert van Waarden travels to Nepal to meet Amrit Singh Thapa in Kathmandu.

Amrit points it out as we zoom past on his motorbike.  If you look closely, past the Nokia sign, past the other motorbikes, over the jumble of electric wires, and let your eyes drift upward, you might see it. It is a solution to the energy problems of Nepal, turning in the wind. Amrit turns a corner, jokes with a security guard and drives into the grounds of the Kathmandu Engineering College. A few minutes later we are on the roof, listening to the whirling of his homemade wind turbine and looking out over this crowded and noisy city called Kathmandu.

Amrit Singh Thapa, owner of Eenergys.com, lives and breathes wind energy. When he was still a student at the Engineering College, he began researching sustainable technology and felt deeply that his path was entwined with wind energy. He hasn’t looked back since.

“My life has been changed drastically since I got involved in wind energy. I don’t have time to sleep. My experience is very small, but there is no one with my experience in Nepal. That is the main factor; from the management, technical, ground, and field level, I have to manage and tackle everything. I am working as the complete package.”

Kathmandu is in the midst of an energy crisis. The Himalayas provide ample opportunity to tap hydro resources, but current supply is insufficient for the entire electrical needs of the city and in winter, when the reservoirs are low or landslides fill the reservoirs, hydro capacity is compromised. The government is now using diesel generators to make up the energy shortage, a system that can only be seen as a short-term solution at best.

“In the summer we have 3 – 4 hours a day of load shedding” says Amrit, using the all-too-common term for a government scheduled black-out of city regions. “In the winter it will be even higher, in 24 hours we will only get 18 hours of electricity. This is the past record of maybe four years.”

Amrit dreams one day of seeing turbines on the hills surrounding the Kathmandu valley. He believes that wind energy is the solution to the energy crisis in Nepal. His calculations show that it is feasible and he cites the build time difference between wind and hydro as an additional plus.

Amrit isn’t only dreaming, he is a busy man. He works with the government and the Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) to identify sites for small-scale renewable energy development and then determines the feasibility of scaling that up to a commercial level. He is also busy with studies in the Mustang District, an area of Nepal with exceptional wind speeds and potential.

The only thing holding wind energy back is proof to the Nepal business, government and people that the technology can work. If Amrit and his partners can do that, and he thinks they can, then the money will flow and the technology will be replicated across the country. “I think that it only takes one or two years to make a big windmill project in Nepal. I am quite optimistic. I hope that I can make it, and I can show that Nepal can also generate wind energy.”

As Amrit and I climb down from the roof, his story reminds me that one person can make a difference. If he has his way, this energetic young man’s vision and passion for wind could be the difference for Nepal’s energy problem.

For more information about Amrit’s work, visit http://eenergys.com/

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