Hydro EMPowerment Network

Knowledge Exchange for Community Micro Hydro in South and Southeast Asia

The Hydro Empowerment Network aims to facilitate knowledge sharing between actors in the field of micro hydro power in South and South East Asia to reach the goal of achieving the broader standardisation and dissemination of micro hydro power in these regions.

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The Minigrid Game – A Participatory Gaming Approach to Community Energy Planning

News from WISIONS posted on March 28th, 2018

One of our SEPS exchange activities aimed to increase community understanding of minigrid design, management and operation via a novel approach: a role-playing game built around the representation of a minigrid system, intended to be used as an educational and collaborative planning tool. The project has now been successfully concluded.Read moreMinimize

This knowledge exchange programme led by ENACT targeted rural communities, energy access practitioners and the broader energy access community through a series of workshops in rural villages in East Malaysia, an online workshop with South and Southeast Asian energy practitioners, and an active online campaign publicising The Minigrid Game.

The community workshops were well received and the three selected communities found the gaming process novel, engaging, easy to use, and fun. Community members reported an improved understanding of their individual and collective electricity consumption and of the limitations of their minigrid’s capacity, as well as finding the game useful for practicing household energy budgeting and methods for improved system cost recovery.

Through pre­workshop social mapping and game facilitation, the project team was able to observe how community members interacted with one another and how they made individual and collective decisions that represented or aligned with their community protocols or rules of conduct, value systems and existing governance structures and institutions.

The online practitioner workshop organised in cooperation with the Hydro Empowerment Network gave the project team and practitioners the opportunity to share experiences and exchange lessons learnt from community energy planning and engagement activities. For practitioners, the workshop also presented the opportunity to try the game for themselves.

The online campaign was conducted using a dedicated website with videos featuring the community workshops and social media feeds. The project team initially believed this campaign would snowball naturally and reach the target communities, but it became clear that the support of paid promotion and advertising was necessary. This was the team’s first attempt at running an online campaign of this nature and much knowledge on digital marketing and online campaigning was gained along the way.

More general information on this SEPS Exchange is available here: Exchange: A Participatory Gaming Approach To Community Energy Planning in Southeast Asia: Spreading Best-Practices on Community Engagement


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Introduction

Pico and micro hydro power (P/MHP) systems (defined as systems with a capacity smaller than 100 kW) have 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. There were 10 participating 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

The Hydro Empowerment Network aims to catalyse the advancement and advocacy of resilient micro hydropower, towards equitable and sustainable development of rural communities in South and Southeast Asia.

The network provides an effective knowledge exchange platform for

  • Technology development and innovation for robust implementation
  • Policy for sustainable impact and scalability
  • Cultivation of local experts, productive uses, and vibrant watersheds

Members aim to transfer knowledge exchange into action, by building the capacity of local change agents for

  • Technology design and dissemination
  • Ground-truthing policy ideas and outputs
  • Bottom-up project sustainability mechanisms

Activities

The network’s activities include collaborative research among members (both regional and country-specific), advocacy and bilateral and multi-lateral in-person exchanges, such as technical capacity-building workshops, practice-to-policy exchanges and network gatherings.

Network Gatherings

The 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. The first two gatherings were held in Borneo/Malaysia, 2013 and in Bandung/Indonesia, in 2015, while the third was the first gathering in South Asia, held in Nepal in 2016.


Practice-to-Policy Workshops

HPNET’s practice-to-policy exchanges facilitate practitioners and other MHP multi-actors
to understand common goals in order to advance the sector.

Technical Training Sessions

HPNET 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 Portal

The 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.

Upcoming Events

Dipti Vaghela will take part in an IRENA side event at UNESCAP SDG7 on 21st February 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Coordination & Support

For the initial three years, the regional coordinator responsible for the network activities was Janathakshan (GTE) Limited, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Since 2015, MHP expert Dipti Vaghela (left) has taken over the coordinating role.

The network was initiated and is primarily supported by the WISIONS initiative.