Micro-Hydro Power in Nepal: Access to Electricity for Isolated Rural Population in the Hills and Mountains

Ajoy Karki, Bhola Shrestha


Hydropower plants in Nepal with installed capacity of up to 100 kW are defined as micro-hydropower plants. Apart from the potential for developing hydropower, Nepal does not have other significant sources of conventional energy such as fossil fuels. The combination of steep topography and about 6000 large and small rivers make the country ideal for the development of hydropower. Since less than 2% of the potential has been realized to date, significant opportunities exist in exploiting hydropower in the country. Extension of the national electricity grid has been very slow and is unlikely to cover large areas in the near future. Also, for rural areas of Nepal located at some distance from the national electricity grid, micro-hydro power becomes a more appropriate option compared to grid extension. Nepal today has a micro-hydro sector that is growing strong and is a good example for other similar mountainous countries to learn from. There are 1769 micro-hydro plants in the country with a total installed capacity of 12.4 MW. Various institutions with donor support are actively involved in promoting the micro-hydropower sector. Along with increasing the number and capacity of micro-hydropower plants in the country, there is a need to establish mini-grids, incorporate new technologies and increase and diversify end uses so that the optimal benefit accrues from micro-hydropower.

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