A Study of Technical, Economic and Social Factors Affecting Micro-Hydropower Plants in Nepal

Joe Butchers, Sam Williamson, Julian Booker, Anh L.H. Tran, Biraj Gautam, Prem Bikram Karki

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    115 Downloads (Pure)


    Due to slow expansion of the national grid, many rural areas of Nepal depend on micro-hydropower plants to provide electricity to homes and businesses. Micro-hydro turbines are designed, manufactured and installed by small and medium sized enterprises based in Nepal. After a plant is commissioned, its technical and economic operation is managed by selected members of the local community. When problems affect the plant, people are forced to rely on traditional or fossil fuel-based technologies to provide light to their homes, whilst many businesses cannot run without a supply of electricity. A study of 24 sites (18 Crossflow and 6 Pelton turbines) looked to identify the combination of technical, social and economic factors that affect the performance and reliability of plants. Interviews were carried out with plant operators, plant managers, and consumers to understand how the plant is run and managed, and the position it occupies in the local community. A quantitative assessment of maintenance and observation of 10 sub-systems was conducted at each site. The information collected demonstrated that the social and economic impact at home and in the community mean that micro-hydropower plants are highly valued. However, it was found that 40% of managers reported that monthly payments were not always sufficient to pay for repairs. By combining information on the domestic and commercial end uses, financially threatened sites have been identified. At the sites with trained operators, a higher quality of maintenance was found. Across all of the sites, problems at all sub-systems which could weaken performance and increase running costs have been identified.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGHTC 2018 - IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, Proceedings
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-5566-5
    ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-5567-2
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2019
    EventIEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference 2018: GHTC 2018 - Double Tree By Hilton, San Jose, United States
    Duration: 18 Oct 201821 Oct 2018


    ConferenceIEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference 2018
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySan Jose
    Internet address

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    • economic
    • micro-hydropower
    • Nepal
    • social
    • technical

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Computer Networks and Communications
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Biomedical Engineering
    • Health(social science)
    • Safety Research


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