Micro hydro and photovoltaic as alternatives for electrification of remote villages in Nepal
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Mikrovesivoiman ja aurinkosähkön vertailu maaseudun kylien sähköistämisessä Nepalissa
Nepal is a least developed country in the Himalayas, which has 83,000 MW of economically exploitable hydro recourses, but is currently facing electricity crisis with around 1,000 MW of estimated consumption and 700 MW of production capacity. Majority of the population resides in rural areas where the electricity coverage is only 30%. The Finnish and Nepalese governments initiated Rural Villages Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP) in 2006 to continuously improve the quality of life, enhance environmental conditions and increase rural livelihoods opportunities. In this thesis the economic and environmental performance of micro hydro, single household photovoltaic system (SHS) and photovoltaic micro grid was estimated. This was done by calculating levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for each technology in different scenarios. The scenarios were created to correspond to actual villages in rural Nepal with different number of households and length of power distribution network. The photovoltaic systems were calculated to provide the same level of electricity services as micro hydro with corresponding photovoltaic array and battery sizes. The main difference between these technologies is the load factor which is typically low for micro hydro schemes. The data is mostly from information of RVWRMP and literature. In addition, a short user survey was conducted during a field visit to Nepal to obtain information regarding user experiences of micro hydro electricity. The results show that each technology has its strengths and weaknesses. The main advantage of micro hydro is its low LCOE when the load factor is above 60%. However, with lower load factors SHS and micro grid provide excellent alternatives. The lower the load factor the bigger the number of households and the shorter the length of PDN that are required for micro hydro to break even with SHS and micro grid. Each technology also offers electricity produced by minimal adverse environmental effects and outperforms traditional offgrid solutions like diesel generators. The main results of the questionnaire show that most common electrical appliances were lights and mobile phones and that majority of the electricity users were positively affected by the availability of electricity. The energy crisis of Nepal is similar to that of many other least developed countries with one important exception; Nepal has vast hydro recourses, which will have significant effect on the rural population and the whole country. This thesis reviewed three technologies to offer electricity for the rural population, all of which have their preferred working environment, which are described more closely in chapter four.