Hydro EMPowerment Network

Knowledge Exchange for Community Micro Hydro in South and Southeast Asia

The Hydro Empowerment Network aims to facilitate knowledge sharing between actors in the field of micro hydro power in South and South East Asia to reach the goal of achieving the broader standardisation and dissemination of micro hydro power in these regions.

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Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Micro Hydro Plants in the Philippines

News from WISIONS posted on December 11th, 2017

Since 1995, several micro-hydro plants have been installed in the province of Abra in the Philippines. However, many of them are now suffering from technical, organisational and financial difficulties. One of our SEPS projects (LINK) aimed to restore and upgrade the Adugao MHP as a demonstration project and to develop a working plan to rehabilitate other power plants in the region.Read moreMinimize

The Adugao power plant is a small 7.5 KW power system in a remote area in northern Luzon, the Philippines. Before its construction in 2000, neighbouring indigenous communities relied solely on firewood for lighting purposes and had never experienced electric power. 13 years later, the system had started to show major signs of wear and poor maintenance.

In 2015, local partner SIBAT with funding from WISIONS started a rehabilitation programme aiming to restore the potential of the Adugao MHP. Over the last two years, SIBAT has:

  • fully restored the power plant, which now operates 24/7
  • avoided system downtime by providing a constant water flow
  • installed a load controller and constructed a reliable concrete canal

Furthermore, a tariff system suited to the local economic context has been established. For example, people in need can pay for the service by in-kind payments of rice, which follows the local tradition of sharing. A potentially self-sustaining maintenance and management team has also been put in place.

The successful project development demonstrates that access to energy can be acquired and sustained through a community-based approach in which the local population formulates and enforces policies to manage and care for an energy system.

More general information on this project is available here: Rehabilitation and Upgrading of an Existing Micro Hydro Power Project in the Province of Abra, the Philippines


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Introduction

Pico and micro hydro power (P/MHP) systems (defined as systems with a capacity smaller than 100 kW) have huge potential in many remote areas around the world and especially in the humid and hilly regions of South and Southeast Asia. Although micro hydro is well established in several countries in the region, it has yet to reach its full potential.

The needs that are primarily addressed for off-grid communities are electrical services, such as for lighting and communications, as well as productive and agricultural uses such as milling or irrigation. In the current context of high fuel and electricity prices this technology can also play an important role in generating clean electricity in areas that are connected to the national grid, but which suffer from an unreliable electricity supply.

The need to develop a network was highlighted by several organisations working with WISIONS. As a first step a workshop was held in February 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. There were 10 participating organisations, from the Philippines, Thailand, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal, together with members of the WISIONS team. As a result of the ideas generated during this workshop the Hydro Empowerment Network was formed. For a list of all members, please visit this link. For details on becoming an HPNET member, please follow this link.

Mission & Goals

The Hydro Empowerment Network aims to catalyse the advancement and advocacy of resilient micro hydropower, towards equitable and sustainable development of rural communities in South and Southeast Asia.

The network provides an effective knowledge exchange platform for

  • Technology development and innovation for robust implementation
  • Policy for sustainable impact and scalability
  • Cultivation of local experts, productive uses, and vibrant watersheds

Members aim to transfer knowledge exchange into action, by building the capacity of local change agents for

  • Technology design and dissemination
  • Ground-truthing policy ideas and outputs
  • Bottom-up project sustainability mechanisms

Activities

The network’s activities include collaborative research among members (both regional and country-specific), advocacy and bilateral and multi-lateral in-person exchanges, such as technical capacity-building workshops, practice-to-policy exchanges and network gatherings.

Network Gatherings

The meetings provide the opportunity for members to exchange knowledge and ideas in a face-to-face setting; to share experiences, gain new insights and build new partnerships, as well as to further develop and strengthen existing ones. The first two gatherings were held in Borneo/Malaysia, 2013 and in Bandung/Indonesia, in 2015, while the third was the first gathering in South Asia, held in Nepal in 2016.


Practice-to-Policy Workshops

HPNET’s practice-to-policy exchanges facilitate practitioners and other MHP multi-actors
to understand common goals in order to advance the sector.

Technical Training Sessions

HPNET members organise different forms of capacity-building sessions to strengthen the skills of local technicians and community organisers, who are often the first point of contact in local communities, e.g. training courses to build local capacity on concrete pico-hydro turbines, electronic load controllers (ELC) and advocacy through the development of multi-media skills (see details of linked SEPS exchanges in the right column).

Online Exchange and Web-Based Knowledge Portal

The different levels of face-to-face exchange are complemented by a network website presenting profiles of the members, members’ online forums and an online library of catalogued micro-hydro documents, multi-media products and a contacts database.

Upcoming Events

Dipti Vaghela will take part in and represent the Hydro Empowerment Network at the 2018 IOREC Conference from 31 October – 1 November in Singapore.

Coordination & Support

For the initial three years, the regional coordinator responsible for the network activities was Janathakshan (GTE) Limited, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Since 2015, MHP expert Dipti Vaghela (left) has taken over the coordinating role.

The network was initiated and is primarily supported by the WISIONS initiative.