Pico-Hydro Electric Power System For A Village In The Nepal Himalayas

Sustainable electric power can be an impoortant part of solving hunger and health issues in remote areas of the world. However, sustainable solutions are still needed. As a result, I am part of an international team working to develop a sustainable pico-hydro electric power generation system for a village in the Nepal Himalayas. We are publishing our work so that the results can be used in other parts of the world. Some of our work was resently presented at the World Renewable Energy Congress at Murdoch University in Western Australia.

Paper Title:
Modular Pico-Hydro Power System for Remote Himalayan Villages

Authors and Affiliation:
Alex Zahnd-RIDS-Switzerland/RIDS-Nepal/RIDS-USA
Mark Stambaugh-RIDS-Switzerland/RIDS-Nepal/RIDS-USA
Derek Jackson-Aurora Power and Design, Inc.
Thomas Gross-FHNW Switzerland, Institute for Ecopreneurship
Christoph Hugi-FHNW Switzerland, Institute for Ecopreneurship
Rick Sturdivant-Azusa Pacific University, USA
James Yeh-Azusa Pacific University, USA
Subodh Sharma-Kathmandu University, Nepal

World Renewable Energy Congress XVI
5-9 February 2017, Murdoch University, Western Australia

Remote, high-altitude villages in the Nepalese Himalayas belong to the poorest and most underdeveloped communities in Nepal, with many still years/decades away from access to electricity. It is common that first time electrification of these villages is through a 15–50kW micro-hydro power (MHP) system, subsidised by the Nepal government. The majority of the so far installed MHP systems in the region are however within 3-12 months after they have been commissioned either inoperable due to premature equipment breakage, inappropriate operation, absent maintenance, or do not provide the expected power output. No mechanism is put in place to build an operating and maintenance fund, further putting the longevity of the system at risk. The “dreams” of villagers, promised by such development projects, remain unfulfilled and most often shattered. This paper describes a modular pico-hydropower (PHP) system (1-5kW) being pursued in the village of Moharigaun in the Jumla district of Nepal whose capacity can be expanded as the village’s power demand, population and ability to operate and maintain the system grows. This modular PHP system provides reliability through redundancy and the elimination of some of the more maintenance-prone components. The turbine water and electricity delivery infrastructure are buried to protect them from the elements and potential mischief. Most importantly, a prepayment system with remote disconnect capability ensures households pay into an operations and maintenance fund. The whole village community is actively involved in each step of the project (planning, implementation stages and training), so they will develop a strong ownership for their PHP system. Further, local people, chosen by the community, will be trained to properly operate, administer, and maintain the PHP system.

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