KATHMANDU, March 20: The Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), the focal agency for renewable energy promotion in the country under the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a US$ 1.5 million agreement to promote renewable energy in Nepal.
The grant, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be used to provide technical assistance under the off-grid component of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Power Extension Project, according to a joint press statement issued on Thursday.
Under this partnership, UNDP will also provide additional co-financing of $800,000 and technical support to AEPC through its Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihood (RERL) project. The agreement was signed on Thursday by AEPC Executive Director Madhusudhan Adhikari and the UNDP Resident Representative Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labe in the presence of ADB Country Director Mukhtor Khamudkhanov, according to the statement.
The SASEC project is supporting rural communities to develop nine mini hydropower sub-projects in Taplejung, Solukhumbu, Rukum East, Rukum West, Dolpa, Jumla and Mugu districts, and 10 solar mini grids in Panchthar, Morang, Okhaldhunga, Sindhuli, Rolpa, Surkhet, Kailali, and Baitadi districts with cumulative capacity of 4.8 MW. “After completion of these sub-projects, 30,500 additional households will have access to reliable, affordable and quality electricity,” the statement quoted AEPC Executive Director Madhusudhan Adhikari as saying.
Speaking on the occasion, UNDP Resident Representative Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labe said the project will help convert mini hydro and solar mini grids into livelihoods opportunities for the local communities with important technological upgrades being introduced. “We value this partnership among AEPC, ADB and UNDP and need to work together, particularly at this time of crisis, as renewable energy has a great potential to give jobs to those who will be socially and economically affected due to the corona virus outbreak,” she said.
SASEC has also been providing support to communities in Nepal to establish cooperatives and a company that are responsible for both developing and operating their sub-projects. The SASEC program also promotes local employment generation, especially targeting women and members of marginalized communities, by skills training and providing access to electricity. The project intends to support the rural population to utilize 20% of the generated power in productive end-use applications.
ADB Country Director for Nepal Khamudkhanov said adequate technical and managerial training support to the targeted communities will be the key for successful operation of the community managed rural energy systems. “The partnership will further strengthen the project efforts to bring important benefits and improve the quality of life of the communities in rural areas by providing affordable and reliable energy, and promoting productive use of electricity, ” the statement quoted him as saying.