Hydro EMPowerment Network
Knowledge Exchange for Community Micro Hydro in South and Southeast Asia
The Hydro Empowerment Network aims to advance sustainable small-scale hydropower for community empowerment in the global South. Its goals are to provide an effective south-south knowledge exchange platform and to transform knowledge exchange into action, by building the capacity of local change agents.
The recording of the latest HPNET Webinar is now online!
News from WISIONS posted on September 18th, 2019
Risha Piya: Program Specialist at Winrock International Nepal
Ayu Abdullah: Co-Founder and Regional Director for Southeast Asia at Energy Action Partners
Iskander Kuntoadji: Founder of IBEKA, the People Centered Business and Economic Institute Indonesia
Collective research and hindsight within the Hydro Empowerment Network reveal that the long-term sustainability and impact of hydro mini-grids is dependent on how well the project is run as a viable and inclusive enterprise. This webinar featured mini-grids practitioners in South and Southeast Asia who are leading the transition from grant-dependent to enterprise-based micro and mini hydropower projects. The webinar was in particular highlighting the following points:
- The linkage between enterprise-based approaches and long-lived hydro mini-grids;
- Best practices to transition from grant dependent to local social enterprise models, based on micro hydro experience in Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia;
- Solutions to scale their efforts to more micro hydro communities, including how to make better use of funding resources that currently go toward grant-dependent projects.
- Grant and subsidy dependent projects often lead to projects with poor load factors and therefore inadequate revenue generation to enable long-term financial sustainability.
- Ownership models of grant-dependent projects tend to be inclusive but typically are not conducive for enterprise development, simply because user-based groups funded by grants were not required to perceive the need or knowhow to establish financial sustainability.
- While self-financed enterprise-driven projects have strong financial viability, they require more time to develop inclusive affordability and equitable benefits among factions of the community.
- To achieve both revenue-driven and equitable hydro mini-grids, a transition is needed toward local social enterprise, brining economic value-add to the mini-grid, village enterprises, local social services, and households.
- A high impact end use for value-add of electricity is local agriculture and agri-processing; however tapping it requires energy practitioners to work with agri-value chain practitioners.
Pico and microhydro power (P/MHP) systems (defined as systems with a capacity smaller than 100 kW) have a 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, which was attended by 10 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
- Technology development and innovation for robust implementation
- Policy for sustainable impact and scalability
- Cultivation of local experts, productive uses, and vibrant watersheds
- Technology design and dissemination
- Ground-truthing policy ideas and outputs
- Bottom-up project sustainability mechanisms
Network GatheringsThe 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.
Practice-to-Policy WorkshopsHPNET’s practice-to-policy exchanges facilitate practitioners and other MHP multi-actors to understand common goals in order to advance the sector.
Technical Training SessionsHPNET 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 PortalThe 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.
Recent EventsThe Hydro Empowerment Network hosted a Deep Dive Workshop on 17 June 2019 at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in Manila in collaboration with WISIONS. The topic was "Hydro Mini-Grids in the Asia-Pacific: Scaling Inclusive Enterprise-Based Approaches". You can see the highlights here:
Coordination & Support
Since 2015, MHP expert Dipti Vaghela (left) has taken over the coordinating role.