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Alternative is mainstream

Monday, February 13th, 2012

The main message from the Nepali Times EcoFair over the weekend was that the ā€œalternativeā€ has become ā€œmainstreamā€.

Nepal Electricity Authroity is a ā€œmainstreamā€ utility, but it doesn’t provide us adequate power, so solar electricity suppliers have now become the mainstream. The state canā€™t provide enough water, so a rain-water harvesting system has become the mains supply.

Similarly, biogas, organic agriculture, electric public transport should be regarded as mainstream if we are to save Nepalā€™s economy. Speakers at the EcoFair said Nepalā€™s addiction to fossil fuels is increasing our economic and political dependence on India, and this will only grow in the coming years unless we become self-sufficient and base our economy on renewable energy.

The trouble is that we have messed up our hydropower sector so much through corruption and political mismanagement that winter power rationing is not going to go away till 2020. What do we do till then?

ā€œSolar power is not the answer to everything, but it is a necessary stop-gap,ā€ said Ram Kumar Thapa of Solar Solutions at the lectures that accompanied on the EcoFair on Sunday.

Thapa says that the cost of solar power generation can be cheaper than the proposed price of buying power from India if the capital expenditure can be subsidized. Solar can also be installed within six months, if a national strategy is developed.

A solar system installed by the UNā€™s World Food Programme in Lalitpur generates 350kW of power and cost Rs 2 million. But it saves the office Rs 70,000 a month in electricity bills and 13,000 litres of diesel per month. The payback is 7 years. Such a system can be scaled up to the national level.

wo brick kiln owners being awarded "orange" certifications by BrickClean Network on Sunday at Nepali Times EcoFair.

On Sunday, the EcoFair also saw the first ever certification issued for two brick factories in Lalitpur for cleaning up their act. The two factories got ā€œorangeā€ certificates, meaning they got 50 per cent in alleviating exploitation and installing pollution-control measures. No brick factory in Nepal has yet got a ā€œgreenā€ certificate, and most have ā€œredā€ certificates. The certification is issued by BrickClean Network, and organization that pools 14 environmental groups.

The Kathmandu-based Base Camp Trek has also started a ā€˜Declare Nepal Trekking Areas and National Parks Plastic Bags Freeā€™ campaign at the EcoFair on Sunday. The campaign will rope in trekking agencies, national park administrations to stop the use of plastic bags and promote awareness among locals along the trekking trails.

A total of 20,000 visitors thronged the EcoFair at the Nepal Academy. More than 45 exhibitors had stalls, and 12 guest speakers held lectures in various environmental themes.

See also:
Overcome shortages, KUNDA DIXIT, a round up of the first day of EcoFair
EcoFair Day I, photo gallery
EcoFair Day II, photo gallery

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