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Engineering professors partner with Nepalese village to provide hydro power

By Farah Kammourieh, January 22 2015 —

Two University of Calgary engineering professors, David Wood and Ed Nowicki, worked with an organization in Nepal to bring renewable electricity through hydro power to a village called Ghodasin.

The project started almost two years ago when Wood, industrial and research chair on renewable energy in mechanical engineering, began trekking rural Nepal with a grad student. The pair wanted to bring the project to a village without power.

They chose Ghodasin because it lacked electricity and sits close to a river that runs most of the year. Residents usually burn pine trees to light their homes. Due to the resin, the pine’s fumes damage residents’ health.

“Hydro power is a great way of powering these villages with quite small generators to power the turbines,” Wood said. “The idea is a small fraction of the water is used to power the turbine.”

Grand Challenges Canada, an organization focusing on global health, donated $100,000 to the project.

Nepalese engineer Kimone Silwal completed the majority of repair work on the village’s electrical generator before the project began.

Nowicki said the project was completed in collaboration with their sister organization, the Kathmandu Alternative Power and Energy Group (KAPEG).

“We had a really good active relationship with KAPEG, who improved upon our ideas,” Nowicki said.

KAPEG revised the design provided to them to make it more effective. It required further community involvement. Members of the village built 20 new latrines and greenhouses that Grand Challenges funded.

Over 500 people now receive power from the project. A controller was distributed to each house, which maintains a constant voltage of electricity. When not heating homes, power is directed to a water heater in the house, which can be used for cooking, drinking and cleaning.

“These things only work if you have people from the country that you can contact and work with,” Wood said.

The project is currently under evaluation in Ghodasin. Wood said they are looking to expand the program to two or three other countries.


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