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.

Watch a video of the online workshop:

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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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


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 an IRENA side event at UNESCAP SDG7 on 21st February 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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.