Increasing the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix remains one of the major energy policy goals across many economies. This paper assesses the roles and potentials of renewable energy sources in less-developed economies while citing Nepal as an example. Renewable energy has a significant role to play in the electrification of rural areas in developing economies and contribute towards sustainable development. Realizing full potentials of renewable, however, requires addressing both the associated demand-side and supply-side constraints. Innovative subsidies and tax incentives, adequate entrepreneurial support, strengthening institutional arrangement and promoting local community-based organizations such as the cooperatives are the necessary factors in promoting the green technologies in countries like Nepal. International factors such as large scale investment and adequate technology transfer are equally crucial to create a rapid spread and increase affordability of decentralized renewable energy technologies in less-developed economies. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.