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WEBINAR | RESILIENCE RELIABILITY ENERGY PROJECTS NEPAL | Reliability of Micro-Hydropower Plants in Nepal - Joe Butchers


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Smart Villages/LCEDN webinar series

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The successful provision of energy services depends on the creation of resilient and reliable energy projects. Their resilience depends on the whole system’s ability to handle shocks and stresses, such as natural hazards and the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, the reliability of schemes depends on the on-going relationship between communities and technology. This can, in turn, contribute to broader community resilience. This webinar explores these interlinkages in the context of Nepal, and is being held jointly with HPNet - the Hydro Empowerment Network (

Published in: Science
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WEBINAR | RESILIENCE RELIABILITY ENERGY PROJECTS NEPAL | Reliability of Micro-Hydropower Plants in Nepal - Joe Butchers

  1. 1. Reliability of micro-hydropower plants in Nepal from technical, economic and social perspectives Joe Butchers Funded by
  2. 2. 2 Overview • Background, motivation and method • Technical, economic and social elements of reliability • Further work • Research was presented at the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in San Jose, USA in 2018
  3. 3. 3 Background • An estimated 3,300 micro-hydropower plants (MHPs) provide a total of 30MW of power • The Alternative Energy Promotion Centre typically provides a subsidy of approximately 40% to 60% • Community contribute financially and with labour • Operators and managers selected by the local community and trained The World Bank. Micro-Hydros Earn First Carbon Revenue in Nepal. [online] Available at: nepal
  4. 4. 4 Motivation • Previous research has established: ▪ variability in turbine efficiency ▪ maintenance practices vary depending on the end uses of electricity ▪ common issues in manufacture of turbines and construction of civil works • What is the interaction between operators, managers, community and the technology? • How do these relationships affect the reliability of the scheme?
  5. 5. 5 Method • Visited 24 sites in Baglung and Gulmi districts of Nepal • Two types of turbine: 18 Crossflow and 6 Pelton sites • Interviews with a consumer, managers and plant operator at each site • A quantitative assessment of maintenance conducted at 10 sub- systems
  6. 6. 6 Maintenance assessment: the good
  7. 7. 7 Maintenance assessment: the bad
  8. 8. 8 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 X W V U T S R Q P O N M L K J I H G F E D C B A Mean score SiteID Maintenance scores by site Trained operator Untrained operator Average Very poor Excellent
  9. 9. 9 Electricity tariffs • Payment was charged based on electricity meter readings for both consumers and end uses • Base rates for consumers varied considerably between: • 100NPR ($0.87) for 20kWh • 100NPR ($0.87) for 4kWh • At larger sites (>50kW), there can be multiple offices where consumers are able to pay within a period • At sites with more dispersed houses, more difficult to collect
  10. 10. 10 What are the benefits to consumers? • Time saved in travelling for mobile phone charging – for one respondent, they avoid a journey “that takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach [on foot]” • Financial savings versus alternative forms such as candles, kerosene or battery charged lights – “NPR 500 per month on lighting reduced to NPR 100 per month” • “It is difficult when the plant is shut down and creates problem even if it is off for 1 or 2 days”
  11. 11. 11 Are consumers reliable? • At 79% of sites, manager representatives answered “Yes” or “Yes, mostly” when asked if consumers paid regularly • What happens if the tariff is not paid? ▪ “society shouts if [the bill is] not paid” ▪ “salaries will not be paid, maintenance repairs will not be on time”
  12. 12. 12 Is the income enough? • Question: “When there have been technical problems, has there been enough money to pay for repairs?” • Amongst the 8 larger plants (>50kW), all managers said they had been able to pay for repairs • Amongst smaller plants (<50kW), responses were more varied Responses from managers at <50kW plants Yes Sometimes No
  13. 13. 13 Reliability is transient • Trained operators deliver a higher standard of maintenance but if they move the knowledge is not transferred • Problems can initiate and develop at a number of project stages • Plant income can be unreliable
  14. 14. 14 Reliability is economic and social • Income of plants is variable for economic, social and environmental reasons: • the number of connected households and end uses • the geography of the site, the income of consumers, the tariff structure • Consumers are mostly reliable consumers • When the plant is not working, consumers pay more for alternative energy sources • Tariff setting and collection must be appropriate for communities and technology
  15. 15. 15 Further work • When do issues that affect reliability initiate and develop? • Detailed analysis of the complete project lifecycle • Survey and observation of manufacturers in March & April • Looking for opportunities to improve reliability through design change and project process recommendations Design Manufacture Construction Installation Maintenance
  16. 16. Thank you for listening