In this blog, Farah N. Samuel, an MSc student of the Durham Energy Institute (pictured right), provides highlights from her participation in the 5th International Conference on Developments in Renewable Energy Technology 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Travelling to Nepal was not a priority on my travel list this year, however, as a representative of Durham University, I was privileged to attend two conferences in Nepal, between March 28-31, 2018 on gender and energy and developments in renewable energy technologies.
The first workshop: The International Workshop on Gender and Energy - Electricity Access and the Changing Social Position of Women in Nepal on March 28, 2018 presented the highlights from a DFID (Department for International Development, UK) funded project, Exploring Factors that Enhance and Restrict Women’s Empowerment through Electrification (EFEWEE). The project is being implemented in East Africa and South Asia by ENERGIA and TERI. The project aims at examining the factors such as socio-cultural, choice and design of the technological systems, ownership and management, the process of electrification, policy and the international actors. The project is still under implementation; however, the key findings so far suggest that a strong policy is direly needed to be in place to provide a better access to women to electrification. Women in this cultural context are still highly dependent on men to take decisions related to energy access even though the women are the key players of energy utility in their households. It is suggested that an action is required to change the socio-cultural narrative while creating awareness for energy and access to ensure that women are being equally benefitted by electrification and are equal are contributors to their socio-economic well-being.
At national level, a platform by the name Women’s Network for Energy and Environment (WoNEE) was set up in 2017, in 17 districts across 6 provinces in Nepal. The network focuses on women’s role in energy and environment and is providing for opportunities that can help women understand their position in making decisions related to energy.
The 5th International Conference on Developments in Renewable Energy Technologies (ICDRET) held between March 29-31, organised by Kathmandu University, Nepal in association with Loughborough University, UK and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) UK, brought together energy practitioners, academics, policy makers and researchers from all over the world working particularly in the global south. The three days long conference was centred around the theme of developments in renewable energy technologies where researchers presented their work and progress in renewable energy as a solution to address energy crises in the global south. Currently many renewable energy projects particularly energy generation through biogas, hydropower and solar power are undergoing in Nepal. Not only the foreign donors and private organisations but the government of Nepal is also proactively engaging in renewable energy initiatives to re-shape and transform the energy sector and the state of the country. The government has set up targets to change the face of energy situation in the country by expanding energy mix by 2020; introduce electric rail network by 2040 and decreasing dependency on fossil fuels by 2050. These are the few notable initiatives among others, undertaken by the government of Nepal.
Each day the conference culminated in a plenary session which was to link and conclude the discussions from the previous sessions against one common theme. A cultural event was organised by the students of Kathmandu University to entertain the guests and to wrap up the event on a high note. My overall experience at the two conferences was enlightening and amazing. I was encouraged to note the high-quality work in the field of renewable energy going on in Nepal. All the discussions helped me inform my knowledge in the field of energy and society and will be indeed helpful in my contributions as an energy practitioner in the near future as well.
By Farah N. Samuel