Energy resources Thesis– Introduction


1.1 Background

Energy is the center of economic, environmental and development issues in today’s world. Clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for global prosperity. Developing countries in particular need to expand access to reliable and modern energy services to reduce poverty and to improve the health of their citizens by increasing productivity, enhancing competiveness and promoting economic growth. Current global energy systems are inadequate to meet the needs of poor people and are jeopardizing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Energy is a fundamental aspect of development. Energy is an extremely important component in the development of any nation. It is used for different purposes like cooking food, lighting, heating, plowing fields, cold storage or refrigeration, etc.  Energy is the power that drives the country’s economy. The improvement of the quality of the life of the people of any country depends upon the adequate supply of energy. Energy sector of development like domestic, agriculture, transport, industrial, communication is directly or indirectly affected by availability of energy. Thus, developing countries in particular need to expand access to reliable and modern energy service to reduce the poverty and improve the health of their citizens by increasing productivity, enhancing competiveness and promoting economic growth.


In the early 1990s, the Research Centre for Applied Science and Technology modified stove design, creating a stove that can be built completely from cheap readily available local materials. These have been promoted by various organizations to complement these efforts. Alternative Energy Promotion Centre/Ministry of Science and Technology executed the National ICS Program with the support of the Energy Sector Assistance Program. In 1999, the National ICS Program was implemented in the middle hills of Nepal through experienced NGOs and GOs 

Energy programmed in the rural areas particularly in the poor developing countries has become a means of poverty alleviation (WECS 1999). However, demand and consumption of energy are growing rapidly across the world due to rising social and economic developments and want for comfort life. About one billion people in Asia depend on biomass as their main source of energy (Thapa, 2006). Nepal is one of the highest traditional fuel consuming countries in Asia because of its high dependency on traditional biomass fuels, mostly firewood, limited amount of charcoal and crops and animal residues (Bhattarai, 2003). In Nepal 83 percent of people live in rural areas (CBS, 2011).  From the total energy requirements of the country, the rural areas account for 80 percent, mainly used for cooking (Shrestha, 2004). Almost all rural energy consumption (98%) is from traditional biomass resources, such as fuel wood, agricultural residues and animal dung. Accessibility to the electric grid by rural people is very limited, while LPG and kerosene oil in the high altitude and remote areas are relatively costly due to the high cost of transport. Therefore, people living in the remote areas depend heavily on forest resources to meet their demand for cooking energy. In high altitude areas, fuel wood is needed for cooking and space heating; the amount increasing with the increase in the altitude and decrease in the temperature. This result in continuous forest degradation, nutrient depletion from soils (by burning agro waste and cattle dung), low agriculture outputs and soil erosion. Together, these aspects result in a further reduction of accessibility to fuel wood (Shrestha, 2004). The rural population in Nepal is highly dependent on traditional biofuel for heating and cooking. This form of energy, however, is a threat to the environment and the health of the population. The high dependence on traditional energy sources increases the demand of the energy accordingly . However, the use of energy based on fossil fuels decreases their stock for major environmental degradation.

1.2 Energy Resources Scenario in Nepal

The energy consumption in Nepal was 9.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent or 401 million Giga Joules in 2008/09. With no proper sources of fossil fuels, the country is largely dominated by the use of traditional, non-commercial form of energy such as: fuel wood, agriculture residue, and animal waste or biomass. The share of traditional form of energy was estimated to be about 87%, commercial source (petroleum fuels, coal and electricity) was 12% and less than 1% energy was supplied through alternative sources like biogas, micro-hydro, solar etc (WECS, 2010). Total energy consumption in the country is increased by about 2.4% annually which is about in line with the present growth of GDP to some extent.

Nepal’s energy resources are presently classified into three categories namely the traditional, commercial and alternative (Ghimire D, 2013). Traditional energy resource includes fuel wood from forests and tree resources, agricultural residues coming from agricultural crops and animal dung in the dry form. Traditional energy resources can be termed as biomass energy resources since it only covers the bio-materials for energy purpose (Devkota G.P., 2007). Energy resources coming under the commercial or business practices are grouped into commercial energy resources that particularly include the coal, grid electricity and petroleum products. Bio-gas, solar power, wind and micro hydro-power are categorized into the alternative energy resources in Nepal (Pokhrel S, 1998). Such resources are considered as the supplement of conventional energy resources (WECS, 2010). Fuel wood is the largest energy resources in Nepal providing about 77 (%) of the total energy demand in the year 2008/2009. Other sources of biomass are agricultural residues and animal dung which contribute about 4 (%) and 6 (%) respectively. The share of traditional fuel decreased from 91 (%) in 1995/1996 to 88 (%) in 2004/2005 and 87 (%) in 2008/2009. Petroleum fuels in the total energy system are about 8 (%). Other sources of commercial energy are coal and electricity, both of which contributes about 4 (%) in the total energy supply (WECS, 2010).

The major energy resource base in Nepal consists of biomass, hydroelectricity, petroleum products, natural gas, and coal reserves. Among the entire energy resource base, it is evident that biomass is the dominant resource base of the country with respect to its utilization. Nepal has a huge potential for hydropower production, but currently this remains mostly untapped. Other commercial forms of energy are not known to exist in any significant amounts.

1.3 Types of Energy Sources

a. Biomass Energy

Biomass is a renewable energy source from living or recently living plant and animal materials which can be used as fuel. An example of biomass is plant materials that produce electricity with steam and animal fossil fuel. Biomass energy is energy generated or produced by living or once-living organisms. The most common biomass materials used for energy are plants, such as corn and soy, above. The energy from these organisms can be burned to create heat or converted into electricity.

Forest resources are under increasing threat from the burgeoning human and live­stock populations and their need to meet annual requirements for fuel wood, fod­der, timber, and other minor forest products. About 44,000 ha of forest area is believed to be degraded and deforested annually, while only about 4,000 hectares are reforested. Conversion of forestland for cultivation, high population growth, and a low level of development have all aggravated the pressure on forests throughout Nepal. Where forests are becoming relatively scarce, people are relying increasingly on crop residue and animal waste, resulting in the degradation in fertility of the agricultural land. In 1994/95, the supply of crop residues in the country that could be used as energy was estimated to be 112.13 million tonnes (WECS 1994). Likewise the country has 4.8 million tonnes of animal dung annually potentially available as fuel.

b. Hydropower

Hydropower refers to the conversion of energy from flowing water into electricity. An example of hydropower is the electricity produced by a water channel turbine.

The hydropower potential of Nepal’s river systems is about 83,000 MW, out of which only 25 per cent is potentially available for development (WECS 1994; WECS 1996). Hydropower utilization is currently less than one per cent of the proven potential. The total installed hydroelectric generation capacity is 586 MW (NEA 2002).  This power has been made available to 878100 consumers through 1962 km of transmission and distribution lines. The national grid represents the overall hydroelectric industry of Nepal as it accounts for almost 98 per cent of the capacity and 99 per cent of the energy supplied.  Apart from national grid, both the public and private sectors and independent power producers manage isolated supply systems. At present there are 35 small/mini hydroelectric plants in operation in remote areas of the country.

c. Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Coal

Petroleum, natural gas and coal are fossil fuels. Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. So far no proven reserves of petroleum suitable for commercial exploitation have been found in Nepal. Thus all petroleum products consumed are imported in refined form for direct consumption. The alternative fossil fuel, natural gas, has also not been discovered as yet in any significant amount. Coal is in many countries among the cheapest sources of energy known. Two deposits are believed to have some economic significance, one in Kathmandu and one in Dang. Even these deposits, however, are believed to be insignificant in terms of the energy demand (WECS 1994).

 1.4 Rationale of Study

The world population is increasing at high rate. This increases the demand of the energy accordingly. At the present context, this has created the pressure on fossil fuel to meet the increasing demand of energy which is in fact the major contributor for environmental degradation. Lack of practice of using alternating source of energy and depending on the traditional energy resources and depletion of forest resources are also the major causes of environmental degradation and degradation of human health. Besides, in many villages of Nepal, people still relay on fire wood as a main source of energy. In this context, this study will help to assess the information on energy generations and consumptions pattern of the people of my study area. It also seeks the awareness and accessibility regarding the advantages of using alternative source of energy among the people of the study area.

1.5 Research Questions

The study was carried to answer the following research question:

  • What is the energy consumption pattern of the study area?
  • What are the sources of energy consumed in the study area?
  • What is the scenario of fuel wood consumption in the study area?
  • What is the scenario of alternative source consumption in the study area?
  • How many houses have access to alternative source of energy?

1.3 Objectives

  • Broad Objective:

The broad objective of this research is

To assess the current energy consumption pattern of Ratuwamai, Ward no. 5

  • Specific Objectives:
  • To study different types of energy source used by the people of Ratuwamai – 5.
  • To assess the number of houses using firewood by the people of Ratuwamai – 5.
  • To identify the number of households using alternative source of energy in Ratuwamai – 5.



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