This past week, HPNET took part in several panel discussions at KIREC 2019, the 8th International Renewable Energy Conference. Thank you to REN21 and other organizers for an informative week, and for the opportunity to take part! We'd like to thank Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Alliance for Rural Electrification for inviting us to share on public-private partnerships for sustainable community-scale hydro. Our thanks also go to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for the opportunity to discuss socio-economic impacts of energy transformation.
Micro hydro development in Indonesia started around 1991 with the support of GIZ (German international cooperation). Later on, Energising Development (EnDev) Indonesia implemented many MHP projects until 2014, with Entec AG Swiss / PT Entec Indonesia as consultants.
The ASEAN Hydro Competence Centre (HYCOM) was inaugurated in 2011 and is jointly operated and managed by PT Entec Indonesia and the Technical Education Development Centre Bandung (TEDC). In addition to PT Entec and TEDC, HYCOM was established with the support of:
HYCOM works to promote small-scale hydropower and disseminate know-how in the sector. Offering hands-on training and application oriented research, HYCOM endeavours to improve the implementation and operation of small-scale hydropower installations worldwide. To date, HYCOM has conducted about 40 trainings and workshops with 350 participants from 25 countries, and has hosted approximately 500 visitors from all over the world.
This quarter HYCOM conducted three knowledge transfer activities, which are described below by guest bloggers and HPNET Board Members, Mr. Gerhard Fischer and Mr. Ardi Nugraha.
TRAINING FOR MICRO HYDRO OPERATORS
In the past 3 months, HYCOM conducted two trainings for micro hydro operators. The trainings focused on Operation and Maintenance concepts and procedures, economic consequences of neglected maintenance, safety issues, understanding turbine characteristics and other practical issues of operation from water hammer, cavitation, synchronizing, alignment, balancing issues and very important environmental issues. The attending practitioners raised many practical issues from their experience, which will help us to improve our trainings with relevant subjects.
Training 1: Operators of Indonesian small hydro plants (July 8 - 12, 2019)
In July, HYCOM facilitated a training for 12 participants by PLN (Indonesia's government-owned utility) and KfW (a German state-owned development bank) “Sustainable Hydro Power Program”. This program was hosted at PUSDIKLAT (a training centre of PLN) involving 3 trainers from Germany. The training involved activities at the HYCOM centre, which made use of the hydro laboratory equipment, as well as visits to hydropower sites near Bandung (750 kW, 2MW up to 1000 MW).
Training 2: Operators of Sarawak, Malaysia mini hydro plant (Sept. 29 - Oct. 4, 2019)
A training event was held for 9 operators and engineers from the power utility of Sarawak, Malaysia. The training was conducted by PT Entec using the HYCOM laboratory equipment and visiting MHP equipment manufacturers, as well as visiting one hydropower plant near Bandung to study the maintenance system. (The plant, a 250 kW standalone MHP in a tea plantation, has been operational for 17 years using equipment made in Bandung.)
EXPOSURE VISIT: Ethiopia Practitioners (Aug. 30 - 31, 2019)
As early as 2008, an exchange of MHP know-how and turbine manufacturer training was held in Indonesia, conducted by PT Entec Indonesia and financed by GIZ. Participants from Ethiopia and Indonesia came together to learn general MHP know-how, and they received a license training for the T15- 300 cross flow turbine used in hundreds of MHP projects worldwide.
The achievements of this training were that three T15 cross flow turbine sites and some propeller low head were installed in Ethiopia and local manufacturers had “new ideas“ to improve their low cost turbines up to 25 kW.
This past August, PT Entec conducted another exchange event with participants from Ethiopia. From August 30th to 31st 2019, a delegation of EnDev Ethiopia visited Indonesia for an exposure visit. GIZ is presently planning the implementation 9 micro hydro sites in the frame of the EnDev project. The delegation (consisting of 3 GIZ/EnDev staff and 3 government officials) visited the HYCOM training centre, which is established at P4TK-BMTI, a training institution for vocational teachers in Indonesia. P4TK-BMTI is presently taking care of renewable energy (hydro, PV, biomass, wind) on the vocational school level. The delegation expressed interest to cooperate with this institution for vocational training in future.
We see a good opportunity for HPNET to support a south-south technology transfer linking the experiences of the network with the African micro hydro market.
Guest blog post written by Mr. Gerhard Fischer (Director of PT Entec Indonesia and HYCOM, and HPNET Board of Advisors Member) and Mr. Ardi Nugraha (Senior Manager of PT Entec Indonesia and HYCOM, and HPNET Board of Representatives Member for Indonesia).
They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are glad to have HPNET Member Mr. Atud Jonathan Asaah from Cameroon, as a guest blogger to share his views on the potential and impact of hydro mini-grids in his country.
Africa harbors one of the world’s best renewable energy resources which can be used to harness electricity. Unfortunately, in 2012 the International Energy Agency announced that about 590 million people in Africa live without access to electricity. Meanwhile, a similar report in the same year quoted that there were 1.5 billion people around the world that don’t have access to electricity.
From the two reports cited above, it can be seen that Africa alone had approximately 40% of those living in darkness in the world. Even though this report is 7 years old, there may be little change as regards the proportion of Africans living in the dark today because in most of these African countries, the grid extension program has been very slow.
This low rate of rural electrification (17%)is due to a series of factors:
On the other hand, these villages are naturally endowed with unlimited renewable energy resources on the spot which include abundant rivers, streams, wind and the sun that could constitute reliable sources of electricity for these remote communities. Law N ° 2011/022 of 14 December 2011 of Cameroon governing the electricity sector in its Article 29 provides for conditions to own private power production units but there is still a very timid entry of private investors in the energy sector, which therefore calls for more awareness from government to lure these partners into synergy to meet up with the demand.
Cameroon is found within CEMAC-The Economic community of Central African states and the most populated country and acting as the economic hub of this block. Its energy sector remains a major prerequisite to meet up its economic giant position within this economic block which is considered a regional integration used as a tool for economic growth. The government cannot achieve this energy objective alone via its current grid extension program.
Most of the villages of these rural areas have been naturally endowed with renewable energy resources like the sun, wind and small streams which can be used to harness their energy on the spot. The more stakeholders fold their arms and see this poor population continue to live in the dark, the more villagers rely heavily on biomass -- cutting down trees in the forest to collect wood and produce charcoal for cooking and heating, kerosene lamps used to provide lighting, petrol and diesel will be used to power standby generators.
We cannot sit and watch these practices when at the same time we intend to mitigate the green gas effect which is causing global warming (climate change mitigation). Renewable energy using indigenous resources like those listed above can play a catalyst role in this energy revolution. Reference is made here to small-scale hydroelectricity systems, solar systems, and wind power. This will lead to bringing the sources of energy back to the community level- a participatory approach to energy generation which gives local communities greater autonomy over the infrastructure.
Many of the people who lack access to electricity in Cameroon live in these villages with sufficient sunshine, abundant streams and rivers that flow throughout the year and in most cases have hills that provide the necessary gravity to rotate a micro hydro turbine.
Creation of community micro hydro power stations
These are micro power stations that have maximum capacity of up to 100 kW and are easily managed by the community. Those communities, which are isolated or found far off the national grid, can be powered by these independent power units which involve harnessing small water sources usually in hills that are flowing under the natural influence of gravity with minimum civil construction infrastructure. The water is tunneled through a pipeline (penstock) to rotate a turbine connected to a generator to produce electricity. The penstock builds up pressure from the water that has traveled downwards from a hill. The electricity is then sent to the village community for household consumption or sold to the national grid. The construction of a community micro hydro project requires community mobilization especially at the civil phase. The local community needs to be well aware on the importance of the scheme.
Community battery charging units
These are small hydro power plants of few watts up to 5 kW which can be used to charge DC batteries at the community level. These batteries are later used with inverters to obtain AC current which is used to power domestic appliances.
Community-based micro hydro repair workshops
The main difficulty encountered in most cases in running micro hydro systems is the lack of a ready supply of affordable turbine parts and the lack of domestic manufacturing capacity. The presence of local technical workshops that can fabricate simple components needed to run the system is vital for the sustainability of the project. Most of the remote micro hydro systems in Africa have been closed down because of lack of spare parts for its components. Lack of local fabrication workshops poses a great challenge for rural electrification.
Africa is losing more forest than any continent and making it more vulnerable to climate change. This seems to be the right moment for policy makers to intervene via promotion of these community-base micro hydro schemes -- which will not only protect our forests but equally improve on the livelihood of these rural population.
By HPNET Member Atud Jonathan Asaah
Atud Jonathan Asaah is a multi talented Cameroonian who holds a Bachelor of science degree in accounting and a master of business administration in Accounting and finance from the University of Buea in Cameroon. He has eleven years experience as an accountant in a banking environment. He has a lot of passion for engineering and has successfully carried out a series of experiments in the field of engineering, especially electronics and electrical engineering, the most successful being the construction of a 15 kW micro hydro system to power his village.
Mr. Assah is the founder of RURAL SOLUTIONS, a social group dedicated to using renewable energy to light rural communities. His role as a social media renewable energy activist has earned him recognition from similar groups in other countries currently working in synergy to fight global greenhouse gas emissions.
This week, the SIBAT and CREATech team, from Luzon, Philippines, took the initiative to complement their 25 years of micro hydro development in the northern Philippines with a learning visit to Tonibung and CREATE’s work in Sabah, Borneo Malaysia. Tonibung has been the pioneer of community-based micro hydro systems in Malaysia for 25+ years, focusing on indigenous communities and social enterprise. Tonibung closely collaborates with Green Empowerment. HPNET's collective knowledge has been greatly enriched by the active membership of all five organizations.
The SIBAT team took time to understand Tonibung’s local manufacturing developments and their approach to linking MHPs to social enterprise for scaling productive end use.
The team visited Longkogungan village and Kalanggaan village, along with Tonibung staff members Bill Baxter and Willery Larry, and Green Empowerment staff member Dan Frydman.
Here is what SIBAT engineer Ms. Benazir Bacala has to say about the recent visit:
“Visiting the sites of Tonibung made me appreciate more the work of NGOs. It was an adventure that we could never forget, risky hiking, lots of crossing rivers...Very inspiring how Tonibung and its staff were also able to reach those villages in remote areas to provide sustainable energy to the communities and their efforts and dedication to help the people.
We learned a lot about their MHP with Pelton turbines, both direct couple and belt-driven systems, that were locally manufactured at CREATE.”
Earlier this year we launched the Hidden No More feature series to spotlight women change-makers who have transformed gender barriers, and made significant contributions to energy access for marginalized communities.
In this 3rd edition, in honor of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples earlier this Quarter, we’re excited to feature Ms. Jade Angngalao, an accomplished indigenous community leader who is a coordinator for community-based micro hydro in the Philippines. We had the opportunity to connect with Ms. Jade and gain insight into her inspiring journey and vision.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I have been involved in community development work for 9 years. For the past 2 years I have been Coordinator of the Renewable Energy Program at Sibol Ng Agham At Teknolohiya (SIBAT). I am a member of the Kalinga tribe, from a mountainous area in the North of the Philippines. I am also a mother of two daughters (which poses a challenge in terms of balancing and prioritizing my different responsibilities).
What motivated you to work in the field of energy access?
I first became aware of micro hydropower (MH) when SIBAT implemented an MHP in my hometown. Previously we didn’t have electricity access, since the electric co-op (the main grid provider) did not reach our town. My father was the one who led the community to participate in the construction of our village micro hydro system. As a young person, I was also involved in building the system, for example, by helping to transport sand.
When the MHP was being constructed, I was also studying Agricultural Engineering at Kalinga State University, and working part-time at the Affiliated RE Centre (a university research centre). When one of the engineers heard of my studies, he suggested that I apply to work with SIBAT after graduating.
For my thesis, I decided to evaluate and report on the sustainability of MHPs in the North. My findings were that most of the systems were no longer operational and there were no plans to repair them. After being implemented, most systems were handed over to the local communities; the communities used the systems for about 5 years before most became non-operational. In most cases, the local MH operator had damaged, or was unable to maintain the system as a result of inadequate training and a lack of proper capacity building. I created a report to give to the Department of Agriculture; however, repairing the MHPs was not a priority, as solar home system were the focus, at the time. I felt that it was a waste of money to build MH systems in very remote communities and then leave them without any support for maintenance and management.
This experience motivated me to work on building communities’ capacity to sustain their MH, rather than leaving them without support, post-construction. I was driven to implement capacity-building measures such as training on maintenance and management, in order for MH communities to become independent and for community-based projects to operate sustainably. Most of the existing systems in my region were based on old designs which required a lot of maintenance. I saw a need for these systems to be upgraded, to give the villages quality electricity, and to improve local management and system sustainability.
How did you start your career with SIBAT?
I was hired by SIBAT in 2010 as part of the technical staff working in potable water and irrigation systems, in remote sites in Mindanao. The sites were so remote that it took two days to reach most of them (and we had to carry our own food along the way). This is when I saw the vulnerable situation of the villages in these areas. There were very high rates of poverty, with many families eating just one meal per day. The villages were deprived of basic social services, with no formal education, health care, clean source of water, or electricity - no government support whatsoever.
This was when I promised myself to continue to work to help the communities there. I felt a kinship with the local people, because I also belong to an indigenous tribe, and had faced a similar reality growing up. These were ‘my people’ and I wanted them to experience the benefits of MH that were felt in my own community.
The irrigation project I was initially working on did not materialize because of the remoteness of the community - 15 hours were needed to walk there and it was very difficult to bring in materials, and also to mobilize the people. In any case, I think it would make more sense to give local training on agricultural techniques before focusing on irrigation projects. Subsequently, I was involved in a solar water project in the southern part of Luzon, before I took part in any MHP work. It was quite difficult starting out and, after three years, I almost quit my job. However, I stayed because I was passionate about the work and was encouraged by some individuals.
What sort of challenges did you face?
I nearly quit my job because some of my seniors expected too much of me. As the youngest team member, I was expected to be full of ideas, gutsy and energetic, but I have my limitations, of course. The program was also dominated by men. As the only woman in the group, I was often the centre of jokes, which were sometimes very offensive.
My senior, Chris Alfonso, encouraged me. He was a SIBAT engineer who had played a big role in the capacity-building of the SIBAT team. He mentored me in potable water and irrigation and I learned a lot from him. His life was short-lived, but we will always be grateful for his mentorship and his vision for SIBAT’s Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology (CREATech), where we now manufacture micro hydro turbines and electronic load controllers.
Tell us about your current work in the MH field.
Currently, I’m working as a coordinator, delegating the team, which is a challenge because the staff is still dominated by men. Lately, I have also been frustrated because we frequently hire an engineer, and invest time and money in training him, only to find that he resigns very soon after starting. They often complain about the small salary or they’re unable to adjust to the culture in the communities where they’re placed. Indigenous communities have a different culture from low-land culture, where these engineers come from. I’ve been encouraging management to hire local, indigenous engineers, who wouldn’t face the same problems around cultural adjustment.
For NGOs that don’t offer large salaries to their engineers, I recommend orienting new engineers to help them understand and adapt to the situation in the communities where they will be working. This can help improve retainment of young engineers.
Community work is very challenging and frustrating at times, but I always tell the staff that they should try to go deeper in developing their understanding of the community.
How do you involve women in your MH work?
When I work in indigenous communities, I have an advantage because I am indigenous myself. This allows me to assert myself in order to include women in decision-making and encourage them to voice their concerns, especially in meetings. Men listen to our opinions and our input is valued and respected.
I believe that women can be the role models to lead people’s organizations. Three of the MHPs I’ve worked on are led by chair-women, and the strong management of the female leaders is reflected in better reporting and book-keeping.
There are still many areas for improvement. For example, in my province, the division of labour is still such that women must do all the household chores and men must provide for the family. When I was starting out in my career, whenever we went to the field, my male seniors would tell me to do the household chores, like cooking. I was proactive in telling management when this happened, but it was difficult. Sometimes I ended up staying back with the community rather than going with my team members, when I couldn’t tolerate being the centre of their jokes.
Yet, I conquered. After years passed, I learned how to fight back and speak out. I resisted until I gained their respect (which took about 5 or 6 years).
What advice do you have for other organizations?
First, you should always include women in decision-making in MH projects. If I had my own organization, I would prefer for it to be dominated by women, primarily because women often have a more holistic approach to community projects.
Additionally, gender awareness and inclusion should start at the internal level, in the organization itself, before any attempt to facilitate it in the community. Gender orientation is included in SIBAT programs on paper, but not in practice. I tell my colleagues we should run gender workshops to teach men how to value and respect women. As an indigenous woman, It’s natural for me to promote this, but I want to see more engagement from others, so that real change will happen.
As for female engineers, my advice is that you should speak up and voice your opinion, don’t be shy!
What is the impact of MH that you have you seen since you started out?
MH has changed many lives in the Philippines. I’ve seen the changes directly in my own village. Before the MHP was installed, we spent a lot of time pounding rice and corn; normally women were the ones doing this work, including the younger generation who would help their mothers and aunties. My mother spent a lot of time doing manual pounding, and I used to help her after school.
It took 4 days of manual pounding for 10-15 kg of rice! In some villages, they had to do this every day. Corn would take 6 hours to pound per day, for just 8mkgs - which would take just 1 hour with a machine (and no labour except for transport). By providing power for rice and corn milling machines, the MHP made life a lot easier for us and saved a lot of time, particularly for women and girls.
I heard that your grandmother was an activist?
Yes, my grandmother was a fierce lady and a strong activist for Indienous rights. She was once featured on National Indigenous Women’s Day by the Cordillera Women’s Education and Research Centre (CWERC). She fought against big geothermal and mining companies in my village. Some of the engineers from a geothermal company installed a system near my grandmother’s rice field. She was very angry and led the community in pulling out the post. She told the engineer, “when you come back, we’re going to kill you; you’re invading out land”.
Is it common for Indigenous women in your tribe to be so strong?
It isn’t really that common now – that’s the problem. My grandmother is no longer there to fight for indigenous land rights and a geothermal company is trying to come again to hold a meeting in the village. Now, there are no women opposing it.
My grandmother got her strength through her genes. She was one of many of my ancestors to fight for our rights. If I go back to my village, I will be the one to lead the movement against the geothermal plant.
It looks like you are mentoring the next generation of MH and agriculture engineers, and they are women! What wish or message do you have for the next generation of MH women practitioners?
Yes, I’ve been supporting a younger engineer and friend, Ms. Bena, to learn how to adapt in indigenous communities. I have also brought my daughters with me to one of SIBAT’s sites to show them my work and to help them understand why I’m sometimes gone for two or three weeks. This also exposes them to the situation of the children there, who are less fortunate. My message to young women MH practitioners would be to appreciate and value their work.
Are there any key messages you have for our readers?
When you are doing community-based MH work, the women should be the first people you try to influence, before the men. This is because the women can lead the men in systemized implementation of the MHP. That is what I’ve learned through my 9 years at SIBAT.
I encourage all women to stay determined and to leave your mark, the way my grandmother did.
Finally, you should be happy with whatever work you are doing; if you’re happy in your job, that is more important than money.
For more journeys of women micro hydro practitioners in our Hidden No More series, please sign up below to receive our newsletter!