REMREC primarily focuses on enhancing the livelihoods of rural communities through the implementation of renewable energy technologies. Due to Nepal’s geography and resource distribution renewable energy technologies are an ideal way to bring energy to remote, rural communities. In 1996 the Government of Nepal established the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, which has the purpose of developing and promoting renewable energy technologies in Nepal. In 2011 the Nepalese Government and the AEPC, along with development partners decided to support a National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP). NRREP’s goal is to improve the living standards of rural people, increase employment and productivity, reduce dependency on traditional energy methods and attain sustainable development. REMREC works within this programme as well as with many other partners to help provide rural communities with renewable energy technologies. REMREC currently works with the following technologies:
The vast majority of the community electrification is done through installing micro hydro power plants. Hydro power has a long history in Nepal and is a cheaper and more practical alternative to the national grid in much of rural Nepal. This is because of Nepal’s mountainous landscape and abundant supply of water. Micro hydro power is defined as having a power output between 10 and 100 kW.
The power output of the project is dependent upon both the vertical drop the water falls before reaching the turbine (the head) and the volume of water passing through the turbine (the flow). Increasing either of these will increase the amount of power generated by the turbine, but care must be taken not to remove all the water from the source river. One of the major benefits of micro hydro power is that most projects are run of river and so the water can be returned to the source after use, causing minimal environmental impact. On top of this hydro power is a far more reliable energy source than many other renewable technologies such as wind power and is still being generated at night unlike solar power. Due to the abundance of water micro hydro projects could reliable power most of Nepal’s rural communities.
Improved water mills installation consists of upgrading existing water mills currently used for grinding and other traditional uses and making them more efficient. The major work done in this upgrade is to replace wooden rotors and shafts with metallic equivalents. It also allows them to generate between 3 and 5 kW of power, enough to provide lighting or operating small electronic devices.
Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) have been developed over the past sixty years in order to reduce indoor air pollution and decrease the impact of deforestation. In rural communities, wood or kerosene cook stoves are commonly used for cooking and heating food. Improved cook stoves are more fuel efficient and the incorporation of a chimney decreases indoor smoke pollution, dramatically improving health standards. The implementation of ICS has proven to reduce health risks such as lung cancer, eye disease and birth defects as well as decrease the pressure on forests and energy resources. ICS programmes train locals how to fabricate ICS, developing skills and creating jobs in the community.
Solar Photovoltaics are one of the most popular and cheap technologies for electricity generation. They work by converting radiation from the sun into electrical energy through the use of semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.
Photovoltaics are widely used across Nepal. REMREC focuses primarily on implementing Rural Solar Drinking Water Projects. For this purpose Photo Voltaic pumping Systems (PVPS) are used. These use the electricity generated from the sun to lift water to the required area, saving work carrying it. PVPS can also be used to help with irrigation, and are particularly useful to rural communities living in high mountainous areas.