When the eighth International Conference on Community-based Adaptation (popularly called CBA8) is taking place in Kathmandu, a report was released on Monday highlighting how climate change is likely to impact Nepal’s hydropower production capacity over the next few decades by affecting river flow especially during the dry season. The report prepared by a team of experts stated that the impact of climate change will lead to the need for more investment to meet the country’s hydroelectricity demand by 2050. Nepal is already reeling under acute shortage of electricity with 12 hours of load-shedding every day in most parts of the country.
And ever increasing demand for energy would only grow further in the coming years. The existing production of hydropower has failed to meet the growing demand. And, going by the latest report titled “Economic Impact Assessment of Climate Change for Key Risks in Nepal”, the hydroelectricity generation would require more investment in the future. Works related to meeting an additional hydroelectricity demand of 2,800 megawatt by 2050 will increase the sector investment cost by US $ 2.6 billion over the next four decades, says the report. Though the climate scientists say that the Himalayan glaciers will melt as a result of global warming for the next few decades and will increase the volume in the snow-fed rivers, the flow will gradually decrease as much of the Himalayan glaciers will have already melted by then. And the United Nations’ Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also confirmed this likely development through various scientific researches.
The government should take this warning of a bleak future in hydropower sector seriously and start strategizing keeping in mind the future consequences. As the majority of planned hydropower projects are based on the run-of-the river models, the government needs to make sure that many projects are developed to meet the ever-increasing demand. The government needs to take the initiatives to secure more investment in the sector either to upgrade the existing hydropower projects or build the new ones. But this is not easy as we have already seen how difficult it has been even to continue with the projects already under construction and to start those in the pipeline. Though more expensive, the government should also look into alternative sources of energy like solar and wind. Individuals have already begun to opt for small-scale solar plants at their homes. The government-owned Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) has already started various solar projects in different parts of the country but it needs to gear up further to develop large-scale solar energy projects in the days ahead. Besides, there are examples of how micro-hydro projects have managed to bring about changes in remote villages with people’s participation. We need big projects for the industrialization of the nation, but, in the meantime, we can also focus on starting a micro-hydro movement at least to reduce the growing demand.
But, all this eventually boils down to the issue of finances. No projects can take off without the proper funding and Nepal alone cannot meet this investment needs. Being the fourth most vulnerable country in the world to impacts of climate change, Nepal needs support from the developed nations to implement activities to enable it to cope with the impacts. Therefore, the on-going international conference (CBA8) would be an ideal platform for countries like Nepal to raise this issue of necessary financial assistance from the developed nations. By hosting the conference, Nepal is already on the global map. But this should materialize into the actual outcome, the more financial assistance in the days ahead.
Source : Republica