New Micro-Hydro scheme to supply green electricity to 45,000 in Southern Africa
Right now a lot of people are getting very excited about the World Cup. However, in Southern Africa most of the population won't be watching any games at home because they do not have any electricity. In Malawi only one in 2,000 people actually has domestic electricity. The situation is not much better in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
But, for 45,000 people, that is all about to change...
Now, with European funding, Practical Action is creating several new micro-hydro schemes which will supply 320kW of electricity to 45,000 people in mountainous areas.
Lack of electricity means farmers are unable to add value to their crops, other businesses are held back because they can’t use electrical equipment, and in the home families don’t have access to modern communication like TVs or radios unless they can get hold of costly batteries.
The diagram above shows a typical micro-hydro scheme like the six which Practical Action is helping to set up. Water is taken first to a settlement bay to remove sediment before being transported to the forebay tank and turbine station. Hydro is one of the most reliable and efficient clean energy generation methods.
And clean energy is not the only way in which this project is designed to be sustainable. So we are training local people in how to build and repair micro-hydro systems so they can maintain what they have created, and potentially create more.We are also teaching people business skills like tariff setting, coverage and customer service. In this way the whole project becomes sustainable in every way.
Already, with the first scheme running, the project is having a positive impact. As one local expressed his feelings, "We are so happy to have light. We feel very thankful and proud; our neighbouring communities envy us. At first they thought our work was in vain but now they are asking us what they can do to obtain light". And we know that communities are now looking forward to the World Cup and being part of the excitement of the event.
How micro-hydro works
Case study: Kenya
Micro-hydro in detail
For more detailed information about micro-hydro power:
- Practical Action's technical brief on micro-hydro power (PDF, 275k)
- Practical Action's energy programme in East Africa, Latin America, Nepal and South Asia
- Practical Action's position on small scale hydro power.
Other stories in this month's Small Talk: