Efficient Use of Excess Energy from Micro Hydro Plants in Nepal

One of our SEPS projects in Nepal has been successfully concluded. The project aimed to improve the sustainability of the Nishi Dovan MHP by using excess energy for organic vegetable farming and, consequently, providing additional income generating activities for local communities.

Management Innovations and Technology Solutions (MIT) implemented an irrigation water lifting technology with energy sourced from under-utilised micro hydro power plants to irrigate mountainous regions of Nepal. The local Kumal community in Western Baglung, where this SEPS project took place, depends mainly on manual labour and fishing. Consequently, lift irrigation provides an appropriate solution for promoting vegetable farming activities, while simultaneously improving the livelihoods of farmers and their families and making micro hydro plants more economic and sustainable.

Several issues and challenges were faced during the project duration. Among these were the inclusion of minority groups, distrust and disparity regarding the managing cooperative, geological challenges, ongoing disputes regarding the construction of the plastic ponds and severe rainfall. However, the community’s commitment, skills and contributions to the project created a conducive working environment and helped solve obstacles and challenges. The project infrastructure (irrigation system) was handed over to the community at the end of the project period. Every household benefiting from the irrigation system has to pay a monthly fee to the managing cooperative, which should also be able to sustain itself (and the new technology) in the future.

This pilot project used only one micro hydro plant to power the lift irrigation systems. Currently, there are 90 micro hydro plants in the Baglung District of Nepal, with a total installed capacity of 2500 kW. 60% of the excess energy from all the plants could be used to power lift irrigation, which would result in a water capacity of 12,734 m3/day that could be lifted to a height of 150 metres, irrigating 600 ha of land. Large-scale implementation in Nepal would require close cooperation between government authorities, stakeholders and the ministry of irrigation, industry and commerce.

More general information is available on our SEPS project page: Using excess energy from existing MHPs to create sustainable income generating activity in Nepal

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