Friday, December 21, 2007

Can bio-fuel bail NOC out of red?


Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 20:
To meet the soaring power demand, the Nepal Electricity Authority generates 49 MW of electricity in thermal plants by using fossil-fuel to supplement hydro-electricity. But if this could be done using domestically produced bio-diesel, it would not only lower the pressure on imported fossil diesel but also check Greenhouse Gas emission by up to 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

It is estimated that in December the Nepal Oil Corporation will bear a loss of Rs 560 million while importing traditional petroleum products from India.

The seeds of an inedible plant, Jatropha Curcas L, locally known as Sajiban, have the potential to produce bio-diesel that can be used in vehicles, for cooking, as well as for the generation of electricity.

Megesh Tiwari, research officer at Winrock International Nepal, said Jatropha seeds could be sold to thermal power plants or other industries.

“If a thermal plant uses bio-diesel about 4,000 kl of imported diesel will be saved and this could minimise NOC’s loss by Rs 18 million each year,” he said.

He, however, added that they were uncertain about the cost of commercially grown Jatropha or the price of the processed bio-fuel.

“But, if the consuming companies themselves grow the plants, it will certainly minimise the price of the yield and will be more cost effective,” he said, adding that the plant can be grown on wastelands and landless or extremely poor families would benefit if they take up growing these plants. “Introduction of bio-diesel will support long-term energy security and lessen fuel related economic losses,” he said.

Dr Jibendra Jha, chief of NEA’s Generation Section, said the bio-diesel would be a strong supplementary fuel that can be used to produce electricity at least during the dry period.

“I have heard about bio-diesel. I believe that it can help in running our thermal plants in the face of diesel scarcity,” he said, adding, “NEA would be happy to work with researchers who have been trying to use bio-diesel in energy production.”

He said the NEA had made a power purchase agreement for a similar plant around Bhairahawa some years ago but it has failed to generate electricity for NEA.

Currently, NEA has two thermal plants — the one in Hetauda uses diesel to generate 10 MW and the Biratnagar plant uses multi-fuel to generate 39 MW.
[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 21, 2007, Poush 06, 2064 ]