According to a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 60% of total solar PV capacity globally by 2050 will be utility-scale, while the remaining 40% will be from rooftop arrays. The report expects distributed solar PV installations to grow more rapidly, driven by policies and supportive measures, as well as consumer engagement in clean energy transformation.
A sectoral analysis from the same organisation shows that globally, in 2020, solar photovoltaics accounted for approximately 127GW of electricity generation capacity addition. This amounts to 45% of global generation additions including renewable and non-renewable energy technologies. A radical transformation is already underway in the global energy sector. At the forefront of this change lies solar PV energy.
A recent study of solar rooftop potential of cities including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Butwal, and Nepalgunj by Renewable and Sustainable Energy Laboratory (RSEL) at Kathmandu University indicated that the average per capita rooftop area available is 24sq m.
This is sufficient to generate about 8MWh per person per year — 30 times more than Nepal’s current per capita electricity consumption and is on par with electricity consumption in developed countries like Europe, Australia and Singapore.
Across rural Nepal as well, there is vast rooftop solar potential. This could supply cheap electricity directly to millions of people to power water pumps, grain grinders, lighting, refrigeration, cooking, heating, telecommunications and electric vehicles. Most of these services can be operated or charged during the daytime, greatly reducing the need for overnight storage.
An adequate policy framework that promotes the efficient use of solar rooftop along with agrivoltaics, floating solar and surface solar will be fundamental for Nepal’s green development. Concerned authorities, academia, industries and the government should collaborate to achieve the diversification of energy sources and complete electrification of Nepal.
The recently launched Solar Nepal Initiative at Kathmandu University will explore such avenues and disseminate science-based information to help improve on the policy framework as well as raise awareness among the general public and researchers.