Scenario of MH…

The scenario of Micro Hydro development in Nepal

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

scnarioThere are many sources of alternative energy available in Nepal such as Biogas, Solar PV and Thermal, Improved cook stoves, Wind energy and Micro hydro and some more. Among them, Micro Hydro is one of the most widely used. Micro Hydro has created tremendous opportunities for technical individuals and institutions involved in implementing alternative energy sources. The role played by the government and private sector in developing Micro Hydro technology worth apprecition.

The use of Micro Hydro technology is a success story for Nepal for the past several years. Micro Hydro technology has been providing energy to the people living in 55 all hill and mountain districts. Out of a total of 75 districts across the country, who live in off grid remote areas. Reliable source claim that around 3300 Micro Hydro plants of capacity of upto 100 kW to electricity to generate have been installed so far and around 350,000 households have been connected with electricity at least for light. Nepal’s success in Micro Hydro, thus, has been taken as an example by the countries in neighborhood and some other African countries.

Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC), the government agency dedicated for development and promotion of alternative energy technologies for rural people is carrying out National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP) for 5 years from 16th July 2012 to 15th July 2017. It is worth mentioning that the programme supported by Danish government, Norwegian government, DFID, KfW, SNV, The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, UNCFD has mentioned that Pico Hydro plants (up to 10 kW capacity) and Micro Hydro plants (10 kW to 100 kW capacity) established in between mid – July 2012 to mid-July 2014 generate 6.2 MW of electricity. It has a set target to establish Pico Hydro, Micro Hydro and Mini hydro plants (100 kW to 1000 kW) to generate in total of 25 MW of electricity in the five year tenure of NRREP. Earlier, Rural Energy Development Programme with support of UNDP and the World Bank was conducted for 15 years and worked successfully in 40 districts. Likewise, Energy Sector Assistance Programme (ESAP) with supports of Danish government and Norwegian government in two phases of 5 years each was also highly successful.

The government agency has formulated a number of suitable policies, procedures for successful implementation of plans and programmes. It has also learned much from the earlier experiences. Mobilizing the government fund and supports extended by development partners are also a successful part of the performances AEPC carried out.

Likewise, there are Kadoorie, Poverty Alleviation Fund, Dolidar and some others institutions take initiatives for establishment of Micro Hydro to the backward people.

People at user level are another but sensitive part in development of Micro Hydro in the country. The consequences produced by various programmes and policies the government applied are to be appreciated in activating the community. The communities, who generally are not literate much and bear not enough knowledge, have to choice first to Micro Hydro or any other technology suitable for their requirement. Thus, they need to be motivated. They need to organize and build consensus among the community members. They have to manage the required procedures at local government offices, fund at their part, AEPC and fund providers.

Gender equality and social inclusion is one another part they have to work with at their level. In the implementation phase, some other important assignments have to carry out like participation in civil constructions, transportation of machines, equipments and construction materials. They have to operate the plant at sustainable manner. Be ready for repair and maintenance. Natural calamities and possible incidents also come to the community part. These all are not easily done, but the people are successful in doing all these with help of themselves and the public sector as well as private sector. They are, thus, looking forward to establish more Micro Hydro plants.

Some of the villages where national grid has been stretched are looking forward to synchronize the electricity generated by Micro Hydro to the national grid. If they connect their electricity to national grid they will get money against sales of electricity. The technical solution to grid connection through mini grid system has been tested successfully.

Private sector, one of them bears different characteristics, off course. These entrepreneur communities have to live with a lot of challenges – such as unsecured investment, non-cooperative staffs, changing policies and regulations and users’ unsound background. However, they take the challenge at the cost of satisfaction of their social responsibility, just besides earning of livelihood by business ventures.

The private sector techno-entrepreneurs undertake all assignments related to establishment of Micro Hydro – survey and design of the projects, manufacturing of suitable turbines, penstock pipes, poles and hydro-mechanical parts, supply, delivery, installation and commissioning and after sales services by one single individual company or firm. However, the classification of jobs has been exercised in the later phase. Thus, a company or firm dedicated to micro hydro may select all jobs as said above or one or more segments.

The private sector companies and firms are working at the limit of 100 kW capacity projects till now, but a segment of the private sector entrepreneurs claim that they are looking for their real capacity to show performing for 1000 kW or below projects. On the basis of long time experience, specially turbines and accessories manufacturers, say that they are in the position to manufacture bigger the 100 kW size turbines. The Government and other institutions linked to micro hydro if extend technical and financial support for new and better instruments, their capacity will grow rather. Some of such private companies or firms are looking for opportunities to manufacture Francis turbines to suite the possible demand in Nepal’s bigger than micro hydropower projects that is to come into market in future. Regarding manufacturing of Francis turbines, some micro Francis turbines were fabricated in the past but they did not yield expected results. Later, one 92 kW Francis turbine which is a reduced size of 4 MW design was made in Nepal and waiting for testing at Kathmandu University Turbine Testing Lab. The hydraulic profile of runners of the 92 kW Francis Turbine was developed at KU TTL with application of CFD. As such, the future of Francis Turbine fabricating in Nepal has been considered coming soon in action.

Nepal’s private has been successful in supplying turbines, other parts and ELCs to foreign countries also. They even provide service of installation and commissioning of the plant. Likewise, they are seen sometime doing transfer of technology to foreign technical personnel in Nepal or in clients’ own country.

Micro Hydro as a social responsibility

The development and promotion of Micro Hydro has a strong relation between poverty alleviation and social upliftment of the people who live specially at remote hills and mountains of the country. They may not be accessed to electricity through national grid transmission line as technically and financially not possible for decades to come. However, by introducing Micro Hydro at their doorstep as stand alone schemes they have been able to get electricity for lighting, and using electricity for agro-processing, cottage industries, computer, health equipments, TVs, Radio etc. People can work in the late time also. The school going children are getting significant benefit as they can read and write in the late evening also. Internet access has been brought into the villagers’ access in some places.

Thus quality life to some extent has been provided by the electricity generated by Micro Hydro as consequence. Micro hydro also has created social tie ups in the communities, and has been successful in sideling social discrimination also as all in the society have to participate and share all pros and cons of Micro Hydro together.

(Published in The Nepal Weekly on 11/November/2014)

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