We have used solar power at our house in Nepal for longer than I have been alive. In fact, as I mentioned in my first blog post, many houses in Nepal rely on the sun to power their homes. The main reason we use solar power is the lack of known oil, natural gas, or coal reserves in Nepal. We have to import gas from India, which makes it extremely expensive and we have a very unreliable supply of electricity. In dry, winter months, when our hydro-powered plants that produce 90% of our electricity are not running up to their full capacity, we have up to 18 hours of “load shedding”, which is essentially 18 hours of blackout. This means people in Nepal are forced to come up with alternative sources of energy to power their homes. For example, in my house, we use a solar powered inverter to illuminate our home in times of darkness.
Furthermore, after the disastrous earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, which has damaged the hydropower plants, Nepal is trying to switch to solar energy. This is especially important for remote areas in Nepal, as it is expensive to expand the electric grid to hilly areas that are hard to reach through many forms of transportation.
While solar power is very important for developing countries, there are a multitude of advantages that come with adopting a clean form of energy in your homes even in the developed part of the world. In addition to the obvious advantages with respect to climate change, adopting a clean source of energy is financially beneficial for the country. The United States currently produces 12GW of energy through solar power and is 5th in the world for solar energy production. The solar industry has installed 32% of all new electricity generating capacity in the U.S. - second only to natural gas. Major U.S. corporations, including Walmart, IKEA and Macy's, are going solar at an incredible rate because it helps them save money. Additionally, the solar industry has created one out of every 80 jobs since the financial crisis. It is helping people gain employment in meaningful careers that involve building, making and creating.
Although there is a small degree of inconvenience that comes with switching to alternative sources of energy, it provides us with a sustainable and clean energy that is advantageous to both developing and developed countries.