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Reliable and sustainable micro-hydropower in Nepal

13 February 2018

Joe Butchers from the Electrical Energy Management Group travelled to Nepal for a 5 week study, funded by the Cabot Institute, looking at the technical, social and economic issues that lead to poor performance of hydropower plants. In rural areas of Nepal which are not covered by the national grid, local communities depend on micro-hydropower plants. These plants divert water from rivers and use it to power a generator. The resulting electricity can be used to power homes, businesses, schools and health centres. When problems occur, many people have no other source of electricity and their lives are badly affected.

Working with the People, Energy and Environment Development Association, a Nepali NGO, Joe travelled to 17 sites where sites were assessed and the people who run, manage and rely on the plants were interviewed. The plants were pivotal in their communities providing a range of social and economic benefits. However, some common technical problems and a lack of maintenance threaten the reliability of plants. 

Joe’s PhD is focused on finding methods to improve the reliability of sustainability of plants. Having identified several technical problems, he hopes to return to Nepal to spend time working with manufacturers to address these issues.  

Further information

The People, Energy and Environment Development Association (PEEDA) (, aims to mobilize both local and external resources to harness Nepal’s indigenous resources, thereby promoting activities for economic development and poverty alleviation. 

The Cabot Institute (, the University of Bristol’s first flagship cross-disciplinary research institute, conducts world-leading research on the challenges arising from how we live with, depend on and affect our planet.

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