Intervention in Renewable Energy Technologies due to Major Earthquake in Nepal
by Ram Prasad Dhital, Nepal (PPRE 2001/2002)
The destructive earthquake (EQ) hitting Nepal on 25 April 2015 and another massive aftershock on 12 May 2015 have caused a major devastation across the country, resulting into loss of about 9,000 lives. EQ had huge destructive impact in 14 districts in mountainous region of the country. Large numbers of houses were either destroyed or were damaged in a way that it was not safe to stay which forced large population to stay in various temporary shelters, government put camps, public institutions and even under open sky. The need of that hour was to provide security light, cooking solution and most importantly providing energy source to charge the communication devices.
Immediately after earthquake, as an immediate relief effort, Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) supported 11,640 households by providing small solar home systems (Solar Tuki) for lighting and mobile charging option and 24,000 households were provided improved cook stoves. AEPC also installed 240 mobile charging stations in 14 earthquake affected areas to ensure that people have options of mobile charging so that people can have smooth communication system when required. Under earthquake relief package, AEPC installed 200 solar camp lights in the area where people were living in temporary shelter. This small effort of AEPC had huge immediate impact on earthquake affected people.
In the meantime Government of Nepal (GoN) established National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) for leading and managing the earthquake recovery and reconstruction in Nepal. NRA has been established to prepare strategic plan for immediate relief, medium term reconstruction and long term reconstruction strategu. AEPC has taken initiation to support the earthquake affected victims to have access to clean source of energy for lighting and cooking. In addition, activities were planned for reconstruction of damaged Mini/Micro Hydro, Solar Pumping Systems and biogas plant as medium term reconstruction plan of GoN.
AEPC has been conducting reconstruction activities as per plan of GoN with support from various development partners. One of the major reconstruction activities was conducted with support from DFID. Under this programme, AEPC announced special support for severely affected areas, specially targeting the households and institutions that have been fully damaged by the EQ or household/community based technologies whose operation has been halted due to the damage by EQ but that can be repaired to make operational again. This activity was aimed towards rehab of the earthquake affected areas and bringing normalcy in the lives of EQ affected people through the supply of clean energy services via various renewable energy technologies.
Under the midterm rehabilitation programme of GoN with support of DFID, AEPC successfully distributed Small Solar Home System (10 Wp system) to 148,800 households of 14 majorly affected districts. These systems have been source of clean energy to those houses and also provided them option of charging the mobile set. These systems were designed in a way that it can be used by the people in their temporary shelter and user can easily take it and install in their permanent house later.
AEPC installed Institutional Solar Power System (ISPS) in 120 public institutions like community schools, health post, and local government offices. These systems were 1 kWp standalone system ensuring minimum required power to run day to day essential equipments. This system supported institutions to resume their work and bring life to normal. We also distributed portable Metallic Improved Cook Stoves to 24,000 households of 14 majorly affected districts. These cook stoves were designed to make it portable so that people can use them easily in temporary shelters.
Another major activity that AEPC carried out to support the life of earthquake affected people was rehabilitation and reconstruction of Biogas Plants. Devastating EQ had caused damaged to number of bio gas plant that were installed under subsidy programme and it created a situation which could force people to return to traditional fire wood for cooking solution. To avoid this situation AEPC conducted status assessment of the biogas plants and as per its report 5,330 biogas plants were rehabilitated and made functional. This effort has avoided the situation where 5,330 house hold would have been compelled to return back to fire wood for cooking.
- Next major reconstruction activity, AEPC carried out rehabilitation of 49 micro hydro projects (MHPs) totaling to 1,664 kW benefitting about 8000 households.
In addition to major reconstruction activity with support of DFID, AEPC implemented various other activities also in coordination with other donor agencies. With support from government of China, AEPC is distribution 10 Wp solar home system to 32,000 earthquake victims and also supporting 325 local institutions by installing 1200 Wp solar PV system. AEPC through Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihood (RERL) a programme under AEPC and being supported by UNDP-GEF, supported installation of 188 institutional solar systems in schools, health posts and public offices in earthquake affected districts, directly benefitting more than 88,559 people. AEPC coordinated We Care USA to support 130 birthing centers by installation of solar energy. AEPC in coordination with GIZ implemented programme Energising Development (EnDev) Nepal, and AAR Japan distributed 7000 Waka Waka solar lanterns to Security Forces and students in earthquake affected areas. These systems were very impactful for the security forces to carry out duty during night time.
AEPC is now focusing on monitoring and evaluation of the implemented EQ rehabilitation activities. Third party monitors have been mobilized and on field data is being collected. First set of monitoring data shows very encouraging impact of the livelihood of the people in EQ affected areas.
The whole post earthquake response activity has been very resource intensive (both human and financial) and required more time than what it was planned initially. The major challenges were coordinating with the local government/DDRC in indentifying/selecting the real affected people and projects and in reaching up to them. Accessibility and poor transportation facility in the rural areas of Nepal caused problem in reaching to the identified beneficiaries in time and also increased the cost. Whole rehabilitation process, however, has been very learning experience for me and this has capacitated AEPC in preparation of post disaster rehabilitation and such unfortunate situation arises in future, AEPC will now be in better position to respond in time effectively and efficiently. This was learning for AEPC on importance of assessment and coordination with other stakeholders and local government to reach out to the really needy people.
Execution of rehabilitation work has given us huge satisfaction to see that we have been able to make some difference to the lives of the people affected by massive earthquake and have been successful to improve the livelihood of earthquake affected people and contributed to rehabilitation program of Government of Nepal.
*Mr. Dhital is the Executive Director, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Nepal (www.aepc.gov.np) and a PhD candidate at Institute of Engineering at Pulchowk Campus, Nepal