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Renewable energy for agriculture




Kathmandu, Nepal

Date & Time

22 April 2024 to 26 April 2024

Organisers: ICIMOD, AEPC, IWMI



ICIMOD and partners are working across the region to turbocharge this important shift to renewables for mountain agriculture.
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About the event

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) are organising a week-long conference on renewable energy for agriculture. The conference aims to address the challenges in Nepal’s irrigation sector, promote sustainable and inclusive renewable energy solutions, foster collaboration among ICIMOD’s regional member countries (RMCs) for scaling solar irrigation globally, and formulate strategies for sustainable energy transitions in agriculture, thereby contributing to resilience, development goals, and global climate efforts.

Energy week comprises of three conferences at national, regional, and global levels, targeting stakeholders ranging from policymakers to practitioners.

The target audience encompasses a diverse range of stakeholders, including policymakers, researchers, private sector representatives, and stakeholders in Nepal’s agricultural sector for the national-level workshop; policymakers, experts, practitioners, and stakeholders from the RMCs for the regional workshop; and a global audience comprising policymakers, public and private sector partners, scientists, and practitioners engaged in renewable energy, agriculture, and climate resilience efforts for the global workshop.

National-level conference: Empowering agriculture with renewable energy for sustainable irrigation and inclusive policies

22 April 2024

This one-day workshop will bring together policymakers, researchers, the private sector, development partners, civil society, and other key stakeholders to engage in a science-policy dialogue on scaling solar irrigation programmes that focuses on inclusion and sustainability. It will focus on solar irrigation in Nepal with three thematic areas. Each thematic session will have 1-3 presentations and a panel discussion.


  • Provide a platform to exchange knowledge on solar irrigation in Nepal
  • Facilitate policy dialogues with policymakers, development partners, and stakeholders to improve the government’s solar irrigation initiatives and make them more socially inclusive, scalable, and sustainable
  • Identify key gaps in research and opportunities for future work in Nepal’s solar irrigation sector

Expected outputs

  • Increased understanding and knowledge exchange among participants about solar irrigation practices in Nepal
  • Enhanced policy dialogues may improve the government’s solar irrigation initiatives
  • Identify critical research gaps and opportunities for future work in Nepal’s solar irrigation sector

Theme 1 – Scaling solar irrigation in Nepal

Solar irrigation is an established technology widely adopted in Nepal. The government has actively promoted solar irrigation pumps (SIPs) as a climate-friendly alternative to diesel pumps. However, because of the significant upfront capital investment required, solar irrigation programmes in Nepal heavily rely on subsidies. As a result, the market size for solar irrigation is often determined by the available budget for subsidising pumps rather than actual demand. This session will delve into the strategies for scaling up solar irrigation in Nepal with an innovative business model, including exploring opportunities for off-grid solar irrigation systems and investigating the possibility of grid integration of SIPs.

This session will explore the following:

  • Potential for expanding off-grid solar irrigation systems in rural areas lacking grid access
  • Benefits of integrating SIPs with the grid and their role in enhancing the scalability of solar irrigation
  • Building a scalable business model for solar irrigation with subsidies and financing options

Theme 2 – Social inclusion in designing solar irrigation programmes

Solar irrigation programmes hold immense promise. Their success however, hinges on community ownership and adoption of the technology. Moreover, there is a disproportionate focus on the electro-mechanical and technical fixes. This neglects the vital socio-political and economic context within which these programmes operate. Failing to account for societal realities as an integral part of planning, design, and implementation hinders the effective transfer of solar lift technologies. This session dives into this challenge, exploring the need to integrate social inclusion into solar programmes.

This session will explore the following:

  • Importance of social inclusion for sustainable solar irrigation programmes
  • Practitioners’ experiences, both successes and challenges, of engaging with communities on these projects
  • Strategies to build community ownership, ensuring programme adoption and long-term success

Theme 3: Making solar irrigation programmes more sustainable

In Nepal, more than three thousand SIPs were installed by AEPC and even more are installed by provincial and local governments. The demand for SIPs is growing, with significant investment made. However, various reports highlight the sustainability issues of the systems, some of which are related to poor construction standards and operation and maintenance (O&M) services. Furthermore, frequent issues result in farmers not trusting the technology, limiting its adoption.

Without ensuring challenges related to the sustainability of solar irrigation programmes, the government’s investment is ineffective, and farmers cannot maximise the benefits of solar irrigation systems.

This session will explore the following:

  • Practical challenges that limit timely and effective O&M services
  • Issues (social aspects, groundwater sustainability) that limit the sustainability of solar irrigation programmes
  • Initiatives taken by solar irrigation programmes, installer companies, and supplier companies to overcome the challenges

For more information:

Regional conference: Advancing productive uses of renewable energy in agriculture in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

23 April 2024

This regional, cross-learning workshop will serve as a platform to establish a common understanding of the prerequisites for scaling up the productive uses of renewable energy and to identify collaborative strategies for driving meaningful change in agriculture sector. By addressing key questions about the current situation, necessary changes, implementation strategies, and actions to be taken, participants will collectively chart a course towards realising the transformative potential of renewable energy for productive applications in agriculture sector, ultimately creating tangible improvements in communities’ lives.

Access to sustainable and affordable energy is essential for lifting communities out of poverty and driving overall development. Sustainable energy projects offer benefits beyond basic energy provision, including the potential for productive uses that can significantly enhance local economies and livelihoods. However, despite its potential, realising the full impact of productive energy use requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond mere energy access.

The productive uses of renewable energy aims to harness renewable energy for activities that boost income and welfare across sectors such as agriculture, rural enterprise, health, and education. While the goals of the productive uses of renewable energy are maximising the social and economic benefits that energy access can catalyse, contribute to achievement of SDGs/ nationally determined contributions (NDC) and enhance the financial viability of the electrification projects, achieving them necessitates collaboration between public and private stakeholders.

The fragmented nature of discussions around the productive uses of renewable energy underscores the need for a coordinated effort to accelerate its implementation, particularly in mountainous regions, where energy access is crucial for building resilience against climate change impacts.


  • Facilitate experience and learning sharing on productive uses of renewable energy in agriculture sector across diverse contexts to create a comprehensive understanding of successful applications and challenges faced under different settings
  • Bring together policymakers, experts, scientists, and practitioners to discuss perspectives and insights for scaling renewable energy solutions, fostering collaboration, and aligning diverse viewpoints for effective implementation in agriculture sector
  • Deliberate on innovative ideas to increase the adoption of renewable energy solutions, modernise productive sectors, and enhance resilience under evolving circumstances, generating creative solutions to overcome challenges and promote sustainable practices

Expected outputs

  • Gain insights into challenges, knowledge gaps, and visions in the region to increase the productive uses of renewable energy in agriculture sector against climate change, informing strategic interventions by identifying critical areas that require attention
  • Develop a shared understanding of challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned by practitioners to enhance the uptake of renewable energy solutions for productive applications through collaborative learning and dissemination of best practices
  • Formulate key policy recommendations for mainstreaming and scaling renewable energy solutions for productive applications, translating insights and shared understanding into actionable policies that promote widespread adoption of renewable energy solutions


SoLAR global knowledge forum: Socially inclusive solar irrigation systems

24–26 April 2024

This forum three-day global forum will bring together around 150 key stakeholders from across the world to discuss the growing body of work and evidence in South Asia around solar applications in agriculture, particularly bringing together key areas for south-south collaboration and scaling up of global ambitions around effective and sustainable use of solar energy in agriculture. This forum is organised by the IWMI and partners as a part of its Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded project Solar Irrigation for Agricultural Resilience in South Asia (SoLAR).

Using learnings from South Asia, this forum will present unique insights on the effectiveness of solar irrigation as a strategy to sustainably manage water, energy, food, and climate (mitigation and adaptation) interlinkages. It will highlight how governments are using evidence from the field to develop and deploy ambitious policies and programmes on solar irrigation to address NDC commitments while supporting climate-resilient, gender-equitable, and socially inclusive agrarian livelihoods.

The forum will cover plenary and parallel sessions with presentations and diverse panels under four key thematic areas:

  • Groundwater sustainability, adaptation, and mitigation
  • Business models of SIPs and scaling up of solar irrigation
  • The role of communities: Capacity building and Gender, Equity and Social Inclusion
  • Designing effective and inclusive policies for solar energy transitions


  • Demonstrate key lessons learned from South Asia on the effectiveness of solar irrigation as a viable strategy for sustainable agri-food systems
  • Provide a platform for policymakers, public and private sector partners, and scientists to exchange ideas and experiences on key barriers and opportunities in the uptake of solar irrigation
  • Share innovative ideas and strategies for supporting south-south collaboration to suitably scale up solar irrigation globally, including ideas for future research

For more information: