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Posted:Jan 3, 2018
 
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Kathmandu Valley now has five electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Plans are afoot to add more, including outside the Valley. This effort by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) should be lauded; it will not only bring relief to EV owners in the Valley, but will also incentivise news ones  to purchase such vehicles.
 
On September 23 last year, the NEA decided to call a tender for installing these charging stations, using them as a way to promote EVs in the competent management of surplus power, betting that the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric project would be up and running later this year to create a surplus in the system.
 
Not only are EVs a great way to expend surplus energy, but the production of hydro-electricity to fuel electric vehicles ensures a new way to battle ever rising pollution levels. The NEA and concerned authorities are on the right track and  should do more to end our reliance on imported, expensive and polluting fossil fuels--or fossil fuel generated electricity.
 
There are already more than 2,000 electric two-wheelers and 300 cars in the Valley, according to the Electric Vehicles Association of Nepal (EVAN). Until these charging stations were introduced, people with EVs had to buy a separate device to charge their vehicles at home. Demand is set to increase further, as electricity is cheaper than traditional fuels and batteries to store energy are getting cheaper too.
 
Developments in lithium ion technology, battery capacity and manufacturing scale have reduced the per KWh (kilowatt-hour) price for energy storage from $750 in 2010 to $150 this year. The government’s tax incentives makes EVs cheaper than traditional vehicles. The government only charges a customs tax of 10 percent on private EVs, while it has further tried to incentivise the public use of EVs by only taking a 1 percent customs tax on EVs meant for public transport such as electric ‘tuk-tuks’ and ‘Safa Tempos’.
 
Indeed, though the promotion of EVs for private use will help in battling pollution, the real change will come when they are used for public transport and long-distance freight transport. Already in rural Tarai, the most popular form of intra-town transport is the electric ‘tuk-tuk’, where ‘micro’ buses and bicycle rickshaws have been slowly losing ground since 2015, when the then Sushil Koirala-led government passed the tax incentives for EVs.
 
Still, Nepal has a long way to go. EVAN submitted viable routes in the Valley for public transport for the EVs to the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) two years ago, but the concerned authorities have not taken any steps to provide route permits. There are almost 20,000 public transport vehicles in the Valley, deemed too little for the Valley’s growing commuting population. So while the NEA and the government have taken commendable  steps to promote EVs in the country, the onus is now on DoTM to use this opportunity to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas.
 
The Kathmandu Post, January 4, 2018
 
 
 
 
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