Summary energy outlook of the HKH

The HIMAP energy chapter  

As part of its larger Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP), ICIMOD is coordinating to produce a Comprehensive Assessment of the HKH containing 17 chapters on different topics including an energy chapter, Chapter 7, “Meeting future energy needs (energy security) in the HKH”. The energy chapter critically examines the energy outlook of the HKH in its diverse aspects, including demand and supply patterns; national policies, programs, and institutions; emerging challenges and opportunities; and possible transformational pathways for sustainable energy relying on an extensive survey of available literature while accounting for the gaps in region-specific knowledge.

The study shows that the HKH remains energy-poor, with more than 80% of rural households still reliant on traditional solid biomass fuel for cooking and heating. This is causing enormous damage to the environment, triggering widespread harm to human health, and resulting in serious social deprivation. Women disproportionately bear the burden of energy poverty due to an endless cycle of fetching firewood and cooking in smoky environs. Under the current state of technology and energy infrastructure, without massive investments now, energy poverty and its consequences will persist in the region for the foreseeable future.  With increasing industrialization, urbanization, and economic growth, energy consumption is expected to also grow significantly. Although no energy demand projections exist for the delimited HKH, country level growth projections show that total primary energy demand under the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario is projected to grow between 2010 to 2035 in all the HKH countries, with the highest annual average rate being recorded in Afghanistan (6.5%), followed by Bangladesh (3.7%) and India (3.0%), and the lowest in Bhutan (0.8%) followed by Nepal (2.0%). 

The HKH must meet its growing energy demands in an environmentally benign and sustainable manner with an ambitious new energy vision: one that involves building an inclusive green society and economy, with mountain communities enjoying modern, affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy to improve their lives and the environment. Translating this new energy vision into action will depend on a reform agenda much more ambitious than today’s efforts by tapping the full untapped potential of hydropower and other renewables through a regional multilateral approach while removing policy and institutional barriers that now perpetuate energy poverty and vulnerability in mountain communities. 

For more information, contact
Bikash Sharma
Senior Environmental Economist