Experts say that for a country that imports more than Rs200 billion worth of oil every year, where consumption is rising year after year and the trade deficit is widening, producing hydrogen fuel could be the best way to achieve energy self-sufficiency, but only if the government makes it a national priority.
According to academicians and researchers involved in the Green Hydrogen Lab, which is financed by Nepal Oil Corporation, producing hydrogen fuel is both economically and environmentally possible, and will assist to minimize fossil fuel dependency.
Petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and coal can all be replaced by hydrogen fuel. It can even power fossil-fuel-powered hydrogen generators for electrification and use.
Green Hydrogen Lab’s vision of Nepali industries specializing in commercially producing, storing, transporting, and using green hydrogen energy led to the Technology Transfer and Local Adaptation for Developing NOC as a Hydrogen Fuel Producing and Distributing Company project, which was funded by a Rs50 million research grant from Nepal Oil Corporation.
Kathmandu University will produce hydrogen and work on storage and end-use devices as part of the two-year initiative. For demonstration purposes, it will transform a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicle to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
The project will also make policy suggestions to the government for green hydrogen, emphasizing green hydrogen generation, storage, and end-use as a future fuel for Nepal.
1 kg of hydrogen fuel requires about 50 units of power to produce, and it allows a car to go 60-70 kilometers depending on the conditions. In terms of efficiency and cost, this is comparable to diesel.
Nepal purchased petroleum goods totaling Rs175.53 billion in fiscal year 2021-21, according to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre’s import data, whereas the import bill was Rs164 billion in fiscal year 2019-20.
The government imposed lockdowns at different times to restrict the spread of the virus, resulting in a drop in consumption in these two fiscal years, affecting petroleum product imports.
In the fiscal year 2018-19, the country imported petroleum products worth Rs216.42 billion.
Nepalese people use 90% more fuel than they did five years ago. Despite reliable electrical supply, the country’s petroleum demand has been growing at a rate of 10% each year.
Petroleum goods are one of Nepal’s most important imports, and the country’s fuel needs are entirely met by India. In the previous fiscal year, Nepal imported coal worth Rs25.78 billion.
The Amlekhgunj-Motihari pipeline, a 69.2-kilometer-long Nepal-India cross-border petroleum pipeline, was inaugurated in July 2019. Currently, it solely transports diesel.
The oil pipeline from Amlekhgunj to Chitwan is being extended by Nepal Oil Corporation. A second cross-border petroleum pipeline connecting Siliguri and Jhapa is being developed by the corporation. It also plans to construct an oil storage facility and a gas bottling facility.