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Sorcha Ní Mhuimhneacháin

Developing a Strategic Roadmap for the Deployment of Renewable Technologies in Rural Nepal: A Case Study of the Annapurna Conservation Area

Primary energy consumption in Nepal continues to be dominated by the use of traditional
biomass, while almost 7 million people remain without basic electricity access. As per the
UN Sustainable Development Goals, the government aims to achieve “Universal Access to
Clean Energy” by 2030 for its citizens. Although progress has been made in cultivating
strategic support services for new energy initiatives, project delivery must be accelerated if
the largely rural population is to be served by 2030.

This thesis investigates the process through which rural energy projects are conceived and
delivered in a particular area of Nepal. The aim is to distinguish between national and local
influences on the provision of energy services and identify opportunities for improvement. A
specific focus is placed on the potential for increased community involvement in the project
delivery chain.

The Annapurna Conservation Area was chosen as the focal point for the study. It is the site
of a long-term development project (ACAP) managed by an autonomous national body—
The National Trust for Nature Conservation. The project is renowned for the success of its
community centric conservation programme, which ensures the long term sustainability of
initiatives. Its approach to energy programme delivery has not been studied to date.
Site visits conducted in the area examined the management and delivery of energy projects,
while household interviews gauged satisfaction with energy services and priorities moving
forward. The investigation highlighted strong community structures, which through a
system of committees would appear to guarantee the longevity of most ACAP-initiated
programmes. However, excepting existing micro hydro power schemes, the communities
are fully dependent on ACAP to deliver future innovations in energy service provision.
As NTNC control of the area will end soon, continued energy development in the region is
threatened. It is proposed that local community structures could be leveraged to organise
the collection of household energy data, including current resource use and energy
priorities. Preliminary findings suggest that such data could benefit private sector energy
companies, NGOs and government bodies in identifying suitable sites for energy projects,
reducing the time and financial resources spent conducting site feasibility studies in situ.
The scheme would also allow communities to take a more active role in drawing attention
to their energy needs, rather than waiting for third parties to act on their behalf. If
successful, the scheme could be applied in communities across Nepal, contributing to the
acceleration of project delivery required to reach 2030 energy targets.