An Electric Experience, An Electric Future

Happening Issue 134 Jan, 2013

It made perfect sense: on December 8, the 2nd Kathmandu International Art Festival, whose theme this year is Climate Change, offered the first of two Saturday Shuttle Service rides on electric buses to help viewers commute between multiple galleries across Kathmandu city.

The idea of the limited service was an immediate hit on Facebook, where it was announced on December 7, a Friday night. On the city’s streets, where it operated the following afternoon, it was a success.
The idea was of course beyond shuttling art audiences. It was also to promote the use of alternative energy sources, festival coordinator Sharareh Bajracharya explained.

Nevi trade Pvt Ltd distributes the buses that were used. They are great for urban centers and Kathmandu’s busy and narrow streets. The company also offers a great line of electric cars at around Rs. 11.5 lakhs.
Even with winter season’s daily power at 10 hours in December, and a history of up to 18 hours, electric vehicles make sense for Kathmandu. Nevi trade’s cars take less than 10 hours for a full charge, with a maximum speed of just over 100km/per hour and a range of 160km. The buses need 8-10 hours to charge, and offers a maximum speed of 38km/hr with a 100km range with full capacity (14 passengers). Reva is the other electric car available in Nepal.

If one builds a simple 4-post garage with a solar-panel roof for their electric car, or just installs Solar PV units in the best suitable location in their house, the car owner could stop worrying about the fuel crisis, and stop wasting money on petrol (Solar PVs generally come with a 15-25 year warranty). Since a full charge would probably last two days or more in the city, the car owner could use that same solar unit to charge a battery-inverter system to light up the house during power cuts.

“A very important point to be noted here is the location of Nepal in the globe that permits around 300 full days of good sunshine (annual average daily insloation above 4.5 kWh/,” the Solar Energy Foundation’s Renewable Energy Policy Gap Study had noted in 2011.

For Kathmandu, making the most of that solar potential to improve mass transit and reduce the city’s economically and health-wise fatal dependency on fossil fuel is a must.

According to the organizers, the scale of this year’s festival has made it the largest art festival in Asia with 94 artists from 31 countries participating. In the end, one of its most important exhibits just might have been the electric vehicle.