Providing biomass electricity to earthquake hit village in Nepal


SNV and Sustainable Energy and Technology Management (SETM) successfully installed a biomass based gasification unit for rural electrification in the Western Development Region of Nepal.

Nepal’s overall energy supply is dominated by biomass. In rural areas, 90 per cent of the population use fuel wood for cooking, and there are still thousands of villages which do not have access to a clean energy source for lighting. The extraction of wood for fuel can form a major driver of forest degradation. However, if managed properly, fuel wood can be a sustainable energy source and a critical income source for the poor.

To convert wood into energy in a clean and efficient manner, biomass gasification technologies have been widely adopted in several developing countries including India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The technology has been successful in electrifying isolated communities 

and enhancing rural livelihoods by triggering economic activities. Informed by the experiences in other countries, the REDD+ Energy and Agriculture Programme (REAP) of SNV partners with the Nepalese development organization SETM to develop and implement a pilot project on electricity production through biomass gasification in a community in the Western Development Region of Nepal.

The main objective of the pilot project was to install a gasification unit of 10 KWe in a rural community and promote domestic use of electricity for lighting and other household needs. Also, the project aims to strengthen the country’s waste-to-energy subsector in line with the development objectives of the National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme of the Government of Nepal. The project team used SNV’s Biomass Waste to Energy Toolkit for selecting appropriate technologies, conducting quantitative analyses and guiding the overall design of the project.

A gasifier plant has been installed and tested in earthquake hit Phedi Village of Dhurkot VDC, Nawalparasi district, and has been handed over to the local user committee on the 24th of July. The plant currently provides electricity for 45 households. All families use CFL lightbulbs, six have a TV, and almost all have a radio. Many families are interested in buying refrigerators and ceiling fans now that they have electricity.

The testing revealed that operating the plant for 5 hours per day, requires 20% of the annual surplus of biomass production in the community forest, which indicates that there are enough local resources to run this plant. Approximately 30% of the firewood will be converted into good quality charcoal, which has good market value and can be a source of income for the project. Eventually, other end use activities like agro-processing mills, ICT kiosk, saw mills, etc. could be established to utilize the day time electricity. The experience gained in this pilot will be used to shape electrification projects in other remote rural areas in Nepal.