The overwhelming use of petroleum products and depletion of foreign currency reserve, scarcity of chemical fertilizers and an unmanaged pile of stinking garbage have been dominating Nepal’s discourse sine the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, Nepal’s ongoing crisis of supplying household cooking gas, and fertilizer to the farmers and management of urban waste and sanitation have tested and proven internal technological solutions. Having experimented over five decades in Nepal, bio-gas can solve at least a minimum level of current problems.
Despite having its own proven technology to minimize the crisis in energy, agriculture and urban solid waste management, Nepalese policymakers are yet to start huge investments in biogas plants. Although private sectors are establishing plants, they are yet to receive support from government agencies.
Currently, biogas contributes about 3 to 4 percent of energy in cooking. Given the new technology, it can drastically increase.
According to CBS, Firewood is used by 76.5% rural and 37.9% urban households. Use of LPG gas is the second most used cooking source in Nepal, urban 53.3% and rural 8.7% are using LPG gas.
Despite numerous efforts by the government and other actors to speed this transition, energy data spanning the years 2000–18 reveal that 69% of households nationwide still rely on solid fuels for cooking today. The proportion of solid-fuel users is especially high in rural regions, reaching 80%. According to CBS2016, Firewood is used by 76.5% rural and 37.9% urban households. Use of LPG gas is the second most used cooking source in Nepal, urban 53.3% and rural 8.7% are using LPG gas.
The oil monopoly says it buys LPG at Rs2,551.15 per cylinder and sells it for Rs1,800, incurring a loss of Rs751.14 on every cylinder sold. The corporation's fortnightly loss on the sale of LPG stands at Rs1.43 billion.
Sushil Bhattarai, deputy managing director of the Nepal Oil Corporation, says demand for LPG has swelled to 50,000 tonnes monthly. “That’s a huge demand.” As the government has been subsidising LPG for all users, this has pushed the corporation into massive debt.
Demand for LPG has grown despite Nepal earning the status of an energy-surplus country. The corporation says that currently 3.5 million cylinders are sold in the market monthly.
With surplus electricity at hand and the availability of improved biogas technology within the country, promoting biogas, electricity and other renewable energy can reduce Nepal’s dependency on petroleum products and help Nepal to control foreign currency depletion.
Experts argue that the global community applauds Nepal’s experience of the use of bio-gas for households. However, Nepal’s policymakers are yet to prioritize this available source for energy security.
Produced by cattle manure, human excreta and agriculture residues, biogas is serving over 500,000 households in the country providing clean cooking gas for the local population. Along with gas, farmers are also using the bio-fertilizer produced by the biogas plant.
Nepalese households use cattle manure, human excreta and agriculture residues in anaerobic bioreactors in many parts of the world to produce methane gas, which is used for the purpose of cooking and lighting.
Formally started in 1992 with the Government of Nepal together with the Netherlands Government, support activities to promote the use of biogas in Nepal were quite effective.
Initiated by Netherlands Development Organization, SNV, the major objective of the Biogas Support Program (BSP) was to promote a wide-scale use of biogas as a sub-statute for fuel wood, agricultural residues, and animal dung and kerosene that are generally used for cooking and lighting in most rural households.
The rising demand for fuel wood, agricultural residues and dung, by the rapidly increasing population of Nepal, has accelerated the rate of deforestation, soil degradation and environmental decline in the densely inhabited areas of Nepal.
Besides, the use of biomass fuels and kerosene has significantly affected the health, welfare and safety, especially of women and children who are most often subjected to the smoke and toxic fumes associated with the use of these fuels and are also subjected to personal danger when alone collecting biomass fuels.
In the last decade, the promotion of biogas In Nepal has resulted in significant social and financial benefits. The technical adaptation of biogas systems, designed specifically for Nepalese conditions, has made remarkable progress during the past decade, and the outlook is excellent for continued improvements and expanded use.
Biogas is making an Increasing contribution to meeting the cooking and lighting energy needs of the rural population as well as enhancing agricultural output as a result of using the slurry from the biogas digester as fertilizer. The widespread adoption of biogas technology in Nepal is due to its modular and easy-to-construct design, its proven reliability, the immediately noticeable benefits and the long-term financial incentives provided by the Government and donors, the Netherlands Government and the Federal Republic of Germany, to make the biogas systems affordable for the rural farmers, The early involvement and active entrepreneurship of the private sector have been crucial to the success.
In 2071-72, 31512 plants are installed. With the LPG available easily, the installation of the plants starts to decline. It is now just over 18,000 now. After the earthquake, the trend to install bio-gas plants started to decline.
Nepal’s experience, however, showed that biogas is commercially viable. Thus, there are over 72 private biogas companies currently working in different parts of Nepal.
One Day workshop [
Realizing the value and scopes of biogas technologies in different levels and scopes, Water and Energy Consultant Association Nepal (WECAN) with support from AEPC and RECON organized a Workshop on Biogas Technology.
Opened by former minister Ganesh Shah, the core theme of the events is Biogas System for Sanitation, Biogas System for Biofertilizer and Biogas System for Energy Security.
In his opening statement, minister Shah said biogas is the best available option for Nepal to solve three major problems faced by the country. “With the ongoing price rise, Neal may not be able to spend foreign currency to import fertilizer and LPG. Thus, it is in the best interest of the country to use proven biogas technology,” said minister Shah.
He said that bio-gas technology is a homegrown technology improved with support from other countries. “Lightening by bio-gas in the mid 1960sMadhesh was a matter of prestige. Only rich people have light originated from biogas,” said Shah recalling history.
“Tens of thousand tons of solid waste is piling up in different parts of the city with stinking air with full of Methuen gas. Farmers are queuing for hours to get a few kilos of chemical fertilizer ignoring organic fertilizers wasted in front of them. With the proper treatment plants, we produce bio-gas and fertilizers from these wastes,” said Minister Shah.
Chaired by Shaha, various experts expressed their views on the theme biogas system for sanitation. Suman Dhun Shrestha from Kathmandu University GSGS highlights the currently available technology to convert human waste to generate biogas.
Similarly, Prashun Bajracharya from MEG, Prakash Lamichhane from BSPN and Prakash Amatya from AROSAN presented their experiences on generating energy from sanitation.
Although it is on a small scale Prakash Amatya of AROSAN has already used humans to generate the gas. In different public toilets, Amatya has been installing the equipment to generate the Michelin gas from human waste.
“Although it is on a small scale, we have proven technology to generate the cooking gas from wastes of toilets. As there are cylinders available, we can fill the cylinder with further investment,” said Amatya, who has been launching the clean and safe public toilets campaign in urban areas. His small NGO is operating 10 public toilets in Lalitpur and Kathmandu.
Sanitation expert Luna Kansakar from GIZ said Nepal releases 89 percent of wastewater without treatment. Only 2 percent of wastewater is treated properly in the country. Given such a situation, Nepal can work to generate the biogas from sanitation.
Although Nepal declared an OPD country, fecal sludge management is now a major problem in rural areas. Using fecal sludge, Nepal can produce biogas and fertilizer. GIZ has currently implemented a pilot project to manage facial in biogas production.
As Nepal’s foreign currency reserve is dwindling at a fast pace importing petroleum products, vegetables, medicines, fertile and food, biogas can provide solutions to all. “There need to synergize bio-gas with energy. However, there is a big gap between the implementation and policy levels. We need to use the gas generated in landfill sites. For this we have to recycle leeches,” said Prakash Lamichhane of BSP-Nepal. We can also generate biogas from Facial sludge management.”
He said that this is the right time for policymakers in the government to use our own internally generated energy to reduce petroleum products.
Given that more than half of Nepal’s municipal garbage is biodegradable, generating Bio-CNG in digesters could be the answer to energy self-sufficiency and sustainability. This is a win-win-win: it improves the urban environment, reduces carbon emission and slashes the trade deficit by substituting LPG and chemical fertilizer use.
Domestic scale biogas technology is one of Nepal’s success stories in the past three decades. The family-level plants offer cooking solutions for more than 0.3 million rural households. However, with growing concern about organic waste management and increasing demand for clean energy, large-scale biogas technology has been gaining traction in recent years.
The government with support from development partners has been exploring the possibility of scaling up the biogas technology and supporting the private sector, factories and municipalities for the installation of large-scale biogas plants.
Kusal Gurung, founder of Gandaki Urja has been converting organic waste to compressed Bio-gas and organic fertilizer, producing biogas in cylinders.
“Converting organic waste to generate compressed biogas and organic fertilizer is an innovative clean-tech project which generates revenue while saving the environment and improving the health of the local mountain communities in Nepal,” said Gurung.
“We are using 45 tones of organic waste comprising of animal manure and municipal solid waste and generates biogas and organic fertilizer. Apart from energy generation, it reduces the emissions from animal manure and municipal solid waste. The project is expected to cut methane emissions by approximately 14,000 tonnes/year, and replace more than 37,000 LPG cylinders annually. Besides, it generates around 5,000 metric tons of organic fertilizer per year, which will largely benefit farmers in a country like Nepal where the majority of its population are involved in agriculture,” said Gurung presenting a paper on the session biogas system for bio-fertile.
“The use of organic fertilizer will reduce the risk imposed by the use of chemical fertilizer preventing soil and water pollution, thus saving the fragile mountain ecosystem. Moreover, the biogas project will also aid in better health and sanitation of the people in the project area. Proper management of waste and use of clean energy source reduces the workload of the women who collect firewood and leads to a better life and improved health condition of the local people.”
Presenting her paper Pooja Manandhar, a micro-biogas, said that there are they
The lack of proper management of waste products from human consumption has created many problems in society. Lately, climate change has been having a global impact in the areas of human lifestyle, production, productivity, money market, and others. Dangerous diseases, calamities, and crises have appeared in the world due to human activities.
Various efforts are being made to prevent, control, and mitigate these disasters and crises. The negative impact of human development on the indigenous agricultural system and the challenges posed by modernizing it has been debated in Karnali by taking the efforts of government, public, non-government and private sectors into a one-door system.
In this regard, a working paper on 'Natural Organic Fertilizer for Nature' was presented by Nepal Biomandu Agrarian Pvt. Presenting the working paper, Dr. Pooja Manandhar, Microbiologist of Nepal Bio-Science Research Laboratory, spoke about the benefits of bio-fertilizer production and its use for human life.
"In order to achieve the goal of human health, survival, and sustainable development, emphasis should be laid on the production of organic manure," said Dr. Manandhar, a microbiologist. He said that research into the use of micro-organisms to transform waste into seals could be very useful for any country.
According to him, the policy arrangement of the Karnali state government to make the non-organic state by making organic manure factories and protecting the health of the people here, and displacing the chemical manure is essential to make it economical and environment friendly. He said that the private sector, as well as the government, should take the lead in that.
During the presentation, Bio-Engineer Arun Lama said that a team of scientists from his own country has prepared organic manure after conducting extensive research to develop healthy and nutritious food for himself and his offspring by adopting the method of harmonizing the social environment and geography without harming the environment. According to him, the project covering the seven goals of sustainable development is economically and economically viable.
After slowing down the move, Nepal is once again at the boiling point facing a major crisis of balance of payment due to rising oil prices including LPG. Thus, the policymakers are considering reducing the LPG by promoting biogas and electricity.
Presenting his views, Nabin Bikash Maharjan, Blue Waste to Value (BW2V) is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste, said that the private sector can help the government to supply organic fertilizer and biogas in the time of crisis.
“At a time when rapid urbanization in the Kathmandu valley has made it difficult for the government to address the resultant increasing levels of waste in an efficient manner, BW2V has the solution for this. We can supply biogas and fertilizer,” said Maharjan.
“Though there were several not-for-profit organizations working on the issue in an informal manner, there was no coordinated effort. Seeing this opportunity, BW2V was created with the idea of establishing a proper waste management system and procedure for the citizens of the Kathmandu Valley.”
“Since its inception in July 2014, BW2V has been working to maximize value from waste by promoting recycling, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, and creating green jobs. BW2V became a Private Limited organization after registering in the Office of Company Registrar, under the Ministry of Industry.”
Since such waste materials are readily available on farms, rural people have benefited from this technology. Besides, this technology is cheaper and simpler, thus, gaining popularity throughout the world.
As the vast majority of Nepali living in rural parts of the country are involved in subsistence agriculture, the use of biogas technology has benefited the country in improving health, environment, and economy and energy conservation.
Guna Raj Dhakal, Renewable Energy Confederation Nepal, said that the government needs to promote the private sector to meet the current challenges in energy, solid waste and fertilizer.
Shanker Aryal from BSP-Nepal said that Nepal has proven technology that can minimize the stress on foreign currency reserves what government needs to do is to promote a biogas system.
In his paper on biogas systems for energy sources, Professor Dr. Jaganath Shrestha from the TU Institute of Engineering said that Nepal has no option other than to use bio-gas as a major component of energy security. Of course, hydropower is there but it needs to mix with bio-gas so that Nepal can maintain supply.
He said that the current crisis will change the overall energy security scenario in the world Nepal also needs to shift from relying on only one source. Nawaraj Dhakal from AEPC Renewable Energy Expert Prakash Chandra Subedi also shared their thought. India Shakya, the renewable and gender expert, holds the view that women need to integrate into energy security as they are the main actors.
Sanjeev Pokharel, Secretary of WECAN and professor Dr. Ramesh Maskey, former president of WECAN also shared their thought on the need to promote renewable energy like biogas for energy security.
At a time when urban areas like Kathmandu have been generating a huge quantity of urban waste and human wastes, Nepal can use them to generate the biogas to replace the LPG.
Along with installing over 5000,000 small plants at household levels, Nepal too has recently started to build big size and middle-size plants with a system of filling the cylinder with bio-gas. At a time when the government has already expressed its helplessness to continue to provide subsidies for the LPG, Nepal can use bio-gas to replace the LPG.