Micro-hydro power

Description Micro-hydro power is water-sourced electric power with capacity of less than 100kw from generators that are placed in a small stream. The power of the stream is harnessed by installing a water wheel that, when turned, feeds a power generator.

Micro-hydro power generation is a clean, sustainable energy source that consumes no natural resources, produces no emissions and creates zero waste. It can provide electricity on a modest scale.

What is the issue? Many communities in the HoB are currently not connected to the national grid and get their electricity from generators which run on fossil fuels. The fuel has to be bought and transported from the cities.

Their access to energy could be improved through micro-hydro initiatives. Due to its modest scale, the problems encountered with big dams, such as loss of biological diversity and habitats, disruption of migration routes, and a host of social problems such as involuntary relocation and loss of livelihoods are avoided.

Big dams, however, can provide energy beyond the local needs and provides industries with ‘GHG-free’ energy.

Micro-hydro initiatives therefore cannot substitute for big dams to meet industrial demand, but can be useful in supplying electricity to entire villages.

Who is the seller? To date there is no trade in electricity generated from the micro-hydro stations in the HoB. Based on village meetings, electricity is distributed to each household and public facilities (e.g. hospital, government’s offices, etc.). Each household is requested to make a modest financial contribution for cable network maintenance, engine maintenance, etc.

Who is the buyer?Thus far, there has been no trade in electricity, but there are some potential buyers (i.e. local businesses, government, etc.).

Steps towards
successful business model

  • Undertake feasibility study;
  • Community organizes itself for management and maintenance of the micro-hydro power generator (MHPG) and protects the intake forest for sustainability of the water supply;
  • Develop standard operating procedures;
  • Develop business model including tariff of electricity supplied and price for household and business buyers;
  • Develop local regulation for MHPG maintenance and related management issues, including conservation regulation for protecting water catchment area;
  • Maximize the utilization of installed capacity by developing or stimulating small-scale business within community.
What can Banks/investors do? Channel green and clean energy funding into appropriate green energy initiatives.

What can the private sector do?
  • Support micro-hydro initiatives with technical skill and managerial knowledge;
  • Use MPHG as part of CSR program;
  • Implement environmentally-friendly practices to maintain catchment area.
What can the Government do? National:
  • Raise awareness about the current renewable energy incentives available under national policies.
  • Facilitate connections between communities and institutions mandated to work on rural electrification and green energy promotion.
Contribution to…
  • Securing natural capital: Forests surrounding the stream are properly managed to secure water for the power station, reducing the threat of deforestation. Trees are no longer cut down to meet the village’s fuel needs.
  • Poverty reduction: With no need to buy diesel to power their generators, the cost of living has decreased. This money can now be spent on health and education measures, etc. Reliable electricity supply for lighting needs, cooking utensils and other appliances improves day-to-day standard of living.
  • Economic growth: Electricity, e.g. through lighting and the use of appliances, can free up time to engage in income-generating activities.
  • Climate change mitigation/adaptation: Though the conservation of forest, but most importantly through substituting conventional energy sources with a green alternative, GHG emissions are mitigated.