Nepal is set to produce hydrogen fuel using excess electricity that would otherwise go to waste. Although this fuel is new to Nepal, in developed countries, it is used in three different formats.
Nepal Oil Corporation and Kathmandu University have jointly started the process of producing hydrogen fuel in Nepal following the signing of a bilateral agreement between them to work together in the field of fuel and energy.
According to Surendra Kumar Poudel, executive director of NOC, following the agreement, the national oil monopoly plans on producing and exporting hydrogen fuel. Thus far, the corporation has been buying fuel from India and selling it in the domestic market.
“The bilateral agreement is a cornerstone in the development of technology to generate fuel from electricity,” Poudel says. According to him, the plan to generate hydrogen fuel using excess electricity from hydropower projects including the Upper Tamakoshi is being materialized.
The Nepal Electricity Authority has projected around 53-840 MW of electricity to go to waste this year due to lack of consumption. The projection is based on the calculation that an additional 825 MW of electricity will be generated this fiscal year. This electricity is likely to be wasted during the rainy season due to high production, low consumption and zero export.
Electricity worth potentially billions of rupees is currently being wasted. With the KU’s technical assistance, the corporation has put forward a plan to produce three types of hydrogen fuels (gas, liquid and solid) using that excess electricity. The corporation can potentially earn billions of rupees by exporting hydrogen fuel while at the same time making a big dent on an annual fuel export bill of around Rs 200 billion.
As per the agreement, the Green Hydrogen Lab under KU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will in the near future hold a demonstration on hydrogen fuel production using electricity. According to lab team leader Dr Biraj Thapa, a public program to produce fuel is being organized within February. After the program’s completion, production will then start and be scaled up in phases, he informs.
According to Thapa, about 50 units of electricity is required to produce 1 kg of hydrogen fuel. “However, due to the high cost of electricity in our country, the cost of production is going to be a bit high for time being.” If excess electricity is available at an affordable price, 1 kg of fuel can be produced at Rs 600. At current rates, it takes Rs 1,600 to produce a kg of hydrogen fuel.
Hydrogen fuel can be stored for a long time by converting it into gas, liquid and solid matter, as required. The corporation has prepared a plan to start producing hydrogen gas cylinders and gradually displace the existing LPG ones. Similarly, diesel-powered vehicles in the capital will be replaced by those powered by liquid hydrogen. The best bit? This fuel is pollution-free.