Hydropower is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy on record, and its use dates back many hundreds of years. Typically, it is delivered via large damming systems or by plants constructed near large rivers or other bodies of flowing water. However, there is plenty of scope for smaller groups of users to benefit from local micro-hydro projects, and the evidence of the benefits offered by these small-scale projects is being witnessed to great effect in Nepal.
With water covering over 70pc of the world's surface, there is vast scope for extracting clean energy from one of the planet's most naturally abundant resources. And used carefully and at a small scale level, there is far less chance of local eco-systems being damaged.
In Nepal communities are harnessing the energy of flowing water with over 3,000 micro-hydro systems that have been installed in villages around the country. The impact of these projects is already being proved, with one village having successfully been able to produce renewable electricity for the first time since 2008. This system is being used to provide reliable electricity for the first time, benefiting villagers and local industries alike.
Practical Action, an NGO, has been helping local communities to set up their micro-hydro plants, which are generally inexpensive to set up and low-cost to maintain once the technology is in place. As well as access to light, heating, cooking and washing facilities through reliable electricity, businesses can operate beyond daylight hours, and a new wave of micro-enterprises has been able to set up as a result. This is bringing sustainable employment benefits alongside energy security of supply, proving just how powerful and broad the benefits of sustainable clean energy can be, particularly in places where centralised energy infrastructure is poor.