What is an HPNET Working Group?
HPNET evolves to meet the needs of its members, focusing on Policy, Technology, and Socio Environmental aspects of sustainability and scalability of pico, micro, and mini hydropower (< 1MW). Encompassing these themes, our Working Groups are an opportunity for network members and partners to synergize to bring forth tangible outputs, e.g. knowledge products, exchanges, and strategy. Groups include members from across 14 countries of South and Southeast Asia, along with partners from leading external organizations.
The groups are formed during our Annual Gatherings, using a facilitation technique that allows each member to voice his/her priorities, identify members with similar interests, and formalize a group. During the Gathering, each group identifies the overarching goal and develops objectives and activities for the year. Thereafter, all HPNET members and partners are invited to join each group, and the final group refines and embarks on its annual work plan.
What do HPNET's 2017 Working Groups do?
Below is a glimpse of the current working groups. They can be classified as cross-regional working groups or country-specific groups.
Within the mini-grids dialogue, micro and mini hydropower is often overlooked, despite the large number of beneficial projects operating globally, particularly in rural regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Hence, the Strategic Advocacy Working Group's goal is to make decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders aware of the advantages of pico, micro, and mini hydro, using appropriate knowledge exchange and products designed in partnership with leading advocacy groups. The group is currently working on fact sheets, videos, and webinars, focusing on HPNET members' practice-to-policy priorities.
Micro hydro developers' capacities are limited to that of their community organizers because project implementation requires a unified and committed community. Local change agents or external activators trusted by the village community, along with the social transformation of the community, are the key to long-lived community projects. Thereof, the Local Social Capital Working Group's focus is to understand social transformation aspects of micro hydro development. Its objectives are to identify ways to strengthen the inherent local social capital of micro hydro projects. This group was inspired by HPNET's 2016 exchange Strengthening Community Organizers in Southeast Asia.
Controllers and Load Management
Load controllers and load management devices are crucial and complicated aspects of micro hydro systems, requiring de-mystification and inputs at the local level to prevent technical failure. The Micro Grid Controllers and Load Management Working Group is a continuation of HPNET's 2014 research and 2016 training on load controllers. The group's goal is to improve the quality of electricity in micro hydro projects by
Unlike large and small (> 1MW) hydropower, micro and mini hydropower have less negative impact on the environment and in fact require healthy watersheds for long-term sustainability. However, as practitioners advancing the sector, we want to understand how our projects impact the local ecology, find approaches that strengthen the natural environment, and monitor the impact of climate change on stream flows across the region. In this regard, the Environmental Impact Working Group will develop guidelines to ensure minimal negative impacts and optimize positive impacts of micro/mini hydro projects on the local environment.
While government and international aid organizations tend to focus on subsidies/grants for rural electrification, the local private sector for micro/mini hydropower development seeks low interest, no collateral, long-term financing. The Innovative Financing Working Group shares, explores, and strategizes innovative financing for micro/mini hydro projects, examining what has worked and current gaps, including financing mechanisms (e.g. debt and guarantee financing, credit lines) and the awareness and capacity of local banks to support decentralized renewable energy projects.
International focus on energy access has meant the extension of the national grid. Since most micro/mini hydro projects are off-grid, sustainability issues arise with the main grid's arrival. Practitioners across the region are voicing for policies that allow for main grid interconnectivity of mini grids. In 2016 HPNET hosted a regional practice-to-policy exchange engaging government, practitioners, and utilities actors from eight countries, to learn about pilot grid interconnected micro hydro projects and strategize a scaled effort. Building on this, the Grid Interconnection Working Group focuses on addressing gaps in knowledge exchange, policy, and advocacy to bring forth scaled grid interconnection of micro/mini hydro projects. The group also considers the knowledge needs of practitioners who seek to interconnect multiple micro hydro projects into a mini-grid.
Productive End Use of Electricity
Productive end use (PEU) of electricity is increasingly highlighted in advocacy and policy forums for mini-grids. It can form the financial base for technical maintenance of the mini-grid, while also providing electricity-based services for household income and reducing drudgery. Its implementation, however, has been slow. HPNET members face challenges in building the community's capacity to organize and link to local markets. The Productive End Use Working Group aims to gather best-practices and communicate them to decision makers and practitioners. It stems from HPNET's 2016 collaborative research and PEU portal.
Training Centers and Curriculum
Several HPNET members have in-house fabrication and/or training centers for local technicians and engineers, however, they remain under utilized due to lack of advocacy, resources, or knowledge capacity. The Training Centers and Curriculum Working Group focuses on strengthening regional training and fabrication centers by
Country-Specific Working Groups
Myanmar's Local Private Sector
The micro/mini hydro sector in Myanmar has quietly thrived during the last 25-years, without support from international funding and knowledge. Experienced family businesses are adept in civil works construction; penstock, turbine, and transformer fabrication; and overall project design, installation, and O/M, including the transmission, distribution, and house wiring. These local social entrepreneurs have implemented 2000+ micro/mini hydro projects with innovative self-financing and integrating productive end use. As Myanmar's National Electrification Plan unfolds, it has become critical to support its integration of local micro/mini hydro developers. Since 2013 HPNET has worked to bring regional hindsight and forward steps, including the formation of the Small Hydropower Association of Myanmar (SHPAM). The Myanmar Advancement Working Group focuses on strengthening SHPAM, with customized mentorship and training from Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, stemming from HPNET's 2014 practice-to-policy exchange in Myanmar.
The northeastern states of India are endowed with rich natural resources, exceptional biodiversity, and vibrant indigenous cultures. However, the development scenario of the region sits at a crossroad, with high unemployment, climate vulnerability, and inequitable extraction of its natural resources. To help address this, the Northeast India Clusters Working Group is inspired to demonstrate micro hydro within a climate-energy-water-livelihoods nexus. Contrary to the micro hydro approach used in existing projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, and Sikkim, the group is developing a cluster of projects to demonstrate micro hydro and ram pump technology integrated with watershed management, local skills building, productive end use, climate resilience, and local governance. The group is also helping to forge HPNET's strategy in India.
Please contact us for further information on HPNET's 2017 Working Groups.