The Nepal Energy Garden forges new links across disciplines by integrating research on the institutional economics of energy and technology transfer with the knowledge of botanists and engineers. The objectives are fourfold:
- to investigate the institutional economics of energy biomass and biofuel production from local to national and global scales
- to undertake a technical assessment of resources and conversion routes
- to combine the institutional and technical analyses to devise ways for community cooperation on sustainable energy production
- to transfer the knowledge gained to a wide international audience.
The energy garden concept originates from an idea developed by the Hassan Biofuels Park in India and will follow their approach for using local plant species as the source of biofuels, thereby avoiding loss of biodiversity as much as possible, and using marginal land to avoid competition with food crops.
The project is a partnership of four organisations in Nepal and the Hassan Biofuels Park. The objectives will be achieved through a combination of policy analysis, reviews of plant species, analysis of technical options and field work in the villages. The aim is to test the feasibility of expanding the successful Energy Garden approach to Nepal and worldwide.
The project aims to find a solution to the controversies surrounding use of biomass and biofuels for energy production by utilising indigenous plant species within the setting of small-scale poor farmers and communities in Nepal using 'Energy Gardens'. This will enhance energy access for poor farmers and communities in Nepal. Key beneficiaries are: Poor farmers who will have enhanced energy access and potential for sale of bioenergy crops through use of indigenous species in their farming systems for biomass and biofuel production. Communities where the poor farmers live through communal processing of bioenergy, using new technologies, derived from biomass grown in both individual farmers and community lands for community use. The following beneficiaries have been identified: South-South cooperation with the Hassan Biofuels Project in India that pioneered the energy garden approach and which has had a major influence on both State and National biofuel policies through its innovative solutions to sustainable biofuel energy access for poor farmers. Both the Hassan Biofuels Project and visitors from Nepal will benefit through exchange of information and knowledge which will be used to develop the energy garden concept and so benefit farmers and communities in Nepal. The exchange of information will take place during visits by the Nepali partner team to the Hassan Biofuels Project. The visit will take place during the early stages of the project. In Nepal, project partners include the NGOs Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) and Practical Action, both of which are strongly engaged in practical implementation of poverty alleviation projects and can upscale the energy garden concept within Nepal, and in the case of Practical Action, internationally. Both NGOs will be immediate beneficiaries of the project results. Through their implementation projects the poor farmers and communities in Nepal will benefit; and through the international nature of Practical Action the energy garden concept could be upscaled to other countries. An innovative communication pathway is through the partnership with Botanic Gardens International (BGCI). BGCI represents an international network of botanic gardens with over 700 members in 118 countries. The 700 members will be immediate beneficiaries of the project by direct information exchange. The project will produce a special edition of the Journal of Botanic Gardens Conservation International on 'Energy Gardens' using insights from the project presented in an accessible format and language. The BG journal is distributed to the BGCI membership and beyond. BGCI will also produce materials for distribution it is membership that can be used for setting up displays on bioenergy and the 'power of plants'. Botanic gardens represent an excellent way of disseminating information to the general public. The displays will combine all three aspects of sustainability: social, economic and environmental, which are associated with appropriate application of bioenergy. If the botanic gardens network use the display materials then the general public will benefit from the project results in a wide range of countries.