Why Micro-Hydro Fails: Investigation into Poor Performance of Micro-Hydropower Plants in Nepal

Project Details


Nepal has abundant hydropower resources, but only 1% has been exploited. Low levels of electricity production and slow expansion of the national grid mean many in rural areas rely on local generation. There are more than 2500 micro-hydropower plants (MHP) in Nepal, manufactured and installed by local small- and medium-size enterprises across the country. When a MHP breaks it causes extended periods of downtime, which have significant effects on people’s lives, left without access to electricity for basic lighting and income generation activities. The reasons for system downtime are often a combination of technical and social factors.

The aim of the proposed project is to understand the reasons behind poor performance and failure of MHPs in Nepal. A field study will be conducted of MHPs using a mixed-methods approach to assess factors contributing to failure, poor performance and poor utilisation. Technical issues will be identified through inspection of MHPs, local opinions recorded using structured interviews and surveys will document operation and maintenance practices.

It is anticipated that this research will demonstrate the combination of socio-technical factors that can lead to poor performance/utilisation of MHPs. The research will indicate common areas of technical failure which can be addressed through design, operational changes and innovative business models of service and maintenance to improve service to the poor communities, and find methods to ensure MHPs are fully utilised for maximum benefit. Two workshops, one online and one face-to-face with energy practitioners in Nepal, will be used to distribute the findings of this work.
Effective start/end date4/09/1731/12/18


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.