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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The Minigrid Game – A Participatory Gaming Approach to Community Energy Planning

News from WISIONS posted on October 16th, 2017

One of our recent SEPS Exchange Activities aims to increase community understanding of minigrid design, management and operation via a novel approach: a role-playing game built around the representation of a minigrid system, intended to be used as an educational and collaborative planning tool in designing a community-sized minigrid system.Read moreMinimize

In the Minigrid Game, networked players come together to play out household consumption and make important energy choices, like purchasing appliances, setting energy tariffs, and managing finances to pay their bills on time. Players' individual behavior, like switching appliances on and off, or failing to make a payment, are immediately visible to everyone else. 

The game is cooperative, and can only be won when the community decides on an appropriately sized system, sets a tariff that pays for its cost, and consumes an amount of energy within the limited capacity. Surprise events along the way, such as hurricanes, lost income or unexpected inheritances add to the fun and challenges that they must overcome.

Energy Action Partners have developed a software version of the game, played on wirelessly connected computers. This has been played and tested in Ladakh in India, Solo in Indonesia and in Sabah, Malaysia. The organisation is currently working on further software development and prototyping a robust, physical console that can be used as an optional user interface. 

Players will have the option of playing The Minigrid Game on a computer or electronic device using the game's digital dashboard screen, or using the physical console, an electronic board resembling a house with miniature appliances that can be 'plugged' in and turned 'on' or 'off'. Once completed, ENACT plans to test this prototype with a rural community in Malaysia.

Read more about recent project development on Energy Action Partners' website. More general information is available on our SEPS project page: A Participatory Gaming Approach To Community Energy Planning in Southeast Asia: Spreading Best-Practices on Community Engagement.


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Last Event

The third annual gathering of the Hydro Empowerment Network of South / Southeast Asia (HPNet) took place from 22nd until 25th of November 2016 at the Nepal Micro Hydropower Development Association (NMHDA) in Kathmandu, Nepal. This is a region long advanced in micro hydro but recently devastated by natural and political calamity. In addition to learning from Nepal's micro hydro advances, members have chosen Nepal for last year's gathering as a show of solidarity and support for Nepal's rehabilitation.

Activities

The network intends to facilitate knowledge exchange and transfer to specifically meet the actual needs and knowledge gaps of the network members. Three different levels of activities and exchange are envisaged:

Bilateral exchange

Bilateral exchange between network members on a face-to-face basis, designed to address the specific needs or knowledge gaps of the partners (see details of linked SEPS exchanges).

Multi-lateral exchange

Multilateral exchange in the form of regular technical workshops, training sessions or symposia. This level of communication will a) consolidate the relationships between the existing network members and b) serve as a platform for expanding the network by inviting potential new organisations/network members.

To date, three network gatherings have taken place. The first was in Malaysia in 2013, the second one in Indonesia in 2015 and the most recent event in Nepal, 2016.

Online Exchange

The two levels of face-to-face exchange are complemented by a network website which presents profiles of the members and allows for forum discussions and the sharing of documents and other resources.

SEPS exchanges – linked to the Hydro Empowerment Network

In the last calls for SEPS project support WISIONS selected the following exchange activities from members of the HPNetwork.

Advocacy and Replication of Community Organisers for Micro Hydro Programmes in Southeast Asia (SEPS12)

Knowledge and Advocacy for Productive End Use of Micro Hydro Projects

Capacity Building for Micro Hydro Electronic Load Controller Technicians in South/Southeast Asia

Micro Hydro for Myanmar: Practice-to-Policy Dialogue with Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

South-Southeast Asia Concrete Pico-Hydro Turbine Technology Transfer

Comprehensive data base on Reliable Load Controllers for Hydro Projects

Many photos of the Hydro Empowerment Network's activities can be found in their flickr photo stream.

Background

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.

Coordination and support

For the initial three years, the regional coordinator responsible for the network activities was  Janathakshan (Guarantee) Limited, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since 2015, MHP expert Dipti Vaghela has taken over the coordinating role. 

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

More information on how to become a member of the Hydro Empowerment Network is available here.