Facilitating universal energy access for developing countries with micro-hydropower: Insights from Nepal, Bolivia, Cambodia and the Philippines

M. Arnaiz, T. A. Cochrane, N. F. Dudley Ward, T. L. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Community owned micro-hydropower (MHP) is a cost-effective technology that harvests the potential energy of rivers and generates electricity that can meet the demands of isolated communities in developing countries. The feasibility of MHP schemes depends on physical, social, environmental and economic factors. Remote communities, however, cannot carry out independent pre-feasibility assessments due to lack of know-how. Local developers often identify potential sites by personal references, and perform pre-feasibility assessments by sending engineers to record essential physical variables such as the head or the river flow. No holistic and easy to use MHP pre-feasibility assessment method exists. To facilitate pre-feasibility site identification, we developed a MHP pre-feasibility assessment tool that can be used by developers as well as communities. The tool was validated using data on scheme current success scores (SCSS) gathered from interviews to users and developers of 35 communities with MHP schemes from Nepal, Bolivia, Cambodia and the Philippines. The analytic hierarchy process was used for multi-criteria decision making to incorporate 15 key quantitative and qualitative criteria that affect the likelihood of success of community owned MHP schemes. Results show a strong correlation (0.87) between the tool results and the SCSS. The tool gives equal importance to the physical, social and economic factors, which are significantly more important than the environmental factor. Water availability, terrain quality, community cohesion and financial support are identified as the most important criteria affecting the likelihood of success of schemes. The tool can be easily used and manipulated by developers and communities to generate pre-feasibility assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-367
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy research and social science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


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