Techno-Economic Modelling of Micro-Hydropower Mini-Grids in Nepal to Improve Financial Sustainability and Enable Electric Cooking

William P M Clements*, Surendra Pandit, Prashanna Bajracharya, Joe Butchers, Sam Williamson, Biraj Gautam, Paul W Harper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

In rural Nepal, micro-hydropower plant mini-grids provide renewable electricity to thousands of communities but the plants often have poor financial sustainability. Widespread uptake of electric cooking in such communities is currently not feasible due to high peak loads and limited capacity. In this paper, we develop a Remote-Areas Multi-Energy Systems Load Profiles (RAMP)-based stochastic techno-economic model for evaluating the economic viability of off-grid communities and improving their financial sustainability by introducing new appliances, productive end uses, and demand-side management measures. The model can be used to understand community electricity demand, assess economic status, determine equitable and profitable tariff structures, and plan new connections including electric cooking promotion or new industrial machines. Detailed electric cooking load modelling functionality was developed to represent Nepali cooking practices, scalable to approximate widespread uptake of electric cooking, and adaptable to other cookers and contexts. The model showed that a payment structure based on electricity consumption rather than a flat tariff could increase the income of a case study community in Eastern Nepal by 400%, although increased monthly payments for certain households from NPR 110 (USD 0.93) to NPR 500–1100 (USD 4.22–9.29) could present difficulty. However, households could reduce their electricity consumption and a more equitable tariff structure could be chosen while preserving plant profitability. The number of industrial machines such as mills could be doubled and up to 40 households provided with electric cookers if demand-side management measures were introduced.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergies
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2021

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