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.
4th Edition of HPNETS Mini-Grids Webinar Series 2019
News from WISIONS posted on December 5th, 2019
Although mini-grids are often boxed as a “pre-electrification” intervention, there is increasing evidence showing that mini-grids can achieve grid parity. Further, in countries that allow mini-grids to feed in electricity to the central grid, mini-grids have actually made the central grid more reliable!
Hydro mini-grids especially meet these scenarios, providing 24-hour reliable electricity, typically at lower LCOE and costs per kW than most other types of mini-grids, and leading to lower tariffs for rural consumers. Thereof, hydro mini-grids are generally financially viable for motorized loads (e.g. agri processing productive end use) and for feeding into the central grid.
Despite their obvious advantages, in most developing contexts decentralized renewable energy mini-grids continue to be framed as “pre-electrification” solutions at par with solar home lighting, or “not as important as the central grid.” Often mini-grid development is housed in a separate and less influential ministry, while the central grid authorities have ultimate power and financial resources. Such a fragmented approach leads to:
- Redundant electrification interventions, and therefore wasteful use of funding resources;
- Confusion on timing of arrival of the central grid, which severely hampers the scale-up of mini-grids;
- Abandoned mini-grids and loss of investment upon the arrival of a reliable central grid;
- Business-as-usual of an intermittently reliable central grid, typically powered by fossil fuels or large hydro, in today’s age of climate crisis.
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.
- 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:
Since 2015, MHP expert Dipti Vaghela (left) has taken over the coordinating role.