Nepal is heavily dependent on the traditional energy sources and imported fossil fuel, which has an adverse impact on the environment and economy. Renewable energy technologies promoted in the country are regarded as a means of satisfying rural energy needs of the country for operating different rural end-uses. In this context, this article is prepared to investigate energy alternatives to pump drinking water in one of the remote rural village of Nepal, which has no means of running water source. Analyses in this article are based on the formulation of three technical scenarios of water pumping using petro-diesel, jatropha-based biodiesel and solar photovoltaic pumps. The technical system design consists of system sizing of prime mover (engine, solar panel and pumps) and estimation of reservoir capacity, which are based on the annual aggregate water demand modelling. With these investigations, detailed financial modelling is carried out in a spreadsheet to compare the alternatives on the basis of the economic parameters; net present value, equivalent annualised cost and levelised cost of water pumping. Analysis is carried out considering different influential parameters; water head, discharge, incentives on the investments, which have effects on the cost of pumped water. Likewise, in case of biodiesel-based system, different yield rate of jatropha plants is also considered in estimating the cost of producing biodiesel. It is found that for operating a biodiesel-based pumping system for the study area, the levelised cost of pumping 1 L of water is higher than that of a solar pump and even higher when compared with diesel, if the seed yield per plant is less than 2 kg and without subsidy on the investment cost of cultivation and processing. With the productivity of 2.5 kg/plant, a biodiesel-based system is more attractive than that of the diesel-based pump, but still remains more expensive than that of solar pump. From the technical perspective (reliability and easiness in operation) and economic evaluation of the technical alternatives, solar pumping system is found to be the most viable solution to pump drinking water in the project area.
International Journal of Sustainable Energy (print Edition), 2014, Vol 33, Issue 3, p. 536-553