Replacing fossil fuel at Everest Base Camp


A plan to introduce renewable energy on the world’s highest mountain


Nepal Mountaineering Association


Being aware of the increase in consumption of energy with the increment of mountain tourism activities at Everest base camp, the Nepal Mountaineering Association presents a project plan to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy, to be used for cooking food, light and charging electronic devices. With the whole world being in a race to cut down the consumption of fossil energy, due to its negative effects on the environment and being a primary source of pollution, NMA wants to do its part in protecting the pristine environment of the Himalayas.

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Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy at the Everest Base Camp would have had a great impact on the environment. If carried out, this project could make a big difference to renewable energy self-sufficiency at Everest Base Camp. Removing and/or cutting back on fossil fuel – which doesn’t come from Nepal and has to be trucked in – is a responsible and forward-thinking proposition. With this project being an idea at the very beginning of its planning process, a narrowing down of the vision and the project plan would be beneficial. A feasibility study that will assess the financial and human resources could further clarify potential success and should also give an indication of the local people’s support.

Project Objectives and Vision

The basic concept of this project of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) is to start using renewable energy in the base camp of Everest to combat the environmental crisis. The association is aware of the consumption of energy in the base camp to move upward as per the increment of mountain tourism activities in that area. Presently, all the expedition groups use diesel generators and LPG gas for the production of energy, which is mostly used for cooking food, light and charging of the electronic devices. During the production of energy, emission of harmful gasses like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide into the pristine environment of the base camp is inevitable. It has become the major cause of the degrading environment in this area. Therefore, with the execution of this innovative approach, NMA has planned to reduce the increasing usage of fossil energy with the usage of renewable energy such as solar energy or wind power.

Because of the geographical location of the base camp, the transportation of the fossil energy is quite an uphill task. In addition, it also increases the cost of the expedition, which ultimately affects the mountain tourism sector. The whole world is in a race to cut down the consumption of fossil energy as it produces carbon dioxide when burnt, which is the primary source of pollution. Carbon emission traps heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change. It also makes the environment more acidic, which will lead to unpredictable and negative changes in the environment. For the preservation of mountain environment and to slower the speed of change in climate, it is an urgent need of time to seek alternate source of energy. In such situation, renewable energy can be reliable source of energy. Mountaineering tourism can be sustainable only when we can reduce the effect of climate change with minimum use of fossil energy and maximum use of renewable energy.

Among the goals of the project are (1) to promote sustainable tourism in the region, where tourism can become sustainable only when the effect of environment crisis, which is the result of the unnatural change in climate, can be minimised.

(2) To reduce the reliance on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, which contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. Since non-renewable energy cannot be replaced or renewed once consumed, there is a need to be extra attentive while using fossil energy. The dependence on the fossil fuel means more production in the harmful gases responsible for the degradation in environment and speed change in climate change. It affects our mountains, ecosystem, and biodiversity which are the major components of mountain tourism in Nepal and elsewhere. Hence, in order to promote our mountain tourism sustainably, our policy should be focused in decreasing our reliance on non-renewable energy and promote in the use of renewable energy.

(3) To promote the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. The objective of this project is to disseminate the demerits of fossil energy and how it affects the climate, environment and ultimately tourism. Another important factor that cannot be ignored is that Nepal is not in a condition to produce fossil energy and is the major cause of exit of foreign exchange from the national treasury.

(4) To protect the fragile ecosystem of the base camp. The preservation of the fragile ecosystem remains very important for the livelihoods of the mountain people since their main source of income is the economic activities within the mountain zone. The balanced ecosystem makes available habitat to wild animal and plants, promotes food chain and controls ecological processes. In addition, degradation in ecosystem can lead into the erosion, avalanche, and flood damage, which can be very dangerous for the people of Everest region. The usage of renewable energy is one of the additional tools, which can contribute to the preservation of fragile ecosystem of the base camp.

The NMA will play a key role among the local people and expedition operators in disseminating information about the effects of consuming fossil energy in the base camp. The association is further looking into publicising a notice with the request to all the expedition members, local NGOs, etc. to be associated voluntarily with the project. Their involvement may be in technical cooperation in the assessment of demand and supply of renewable and non-renewable energy of power in base camp. They can also help in collecting information in how non-renewable energy is polluting environment and bringing in climate change, which is severely affecting the environment of the base camp. This should help in creating a feeling of the ownership of the project among all involved and present.

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Organised and Endorsed by
Nepal Mountaineering Association

UIAA Mountain Protection Award Nominees