Monday, June 16, 2008

Hydro Power, a potencial scheme for Remote villages

by Charles Roring

One of the renewable energy resources is hydro power. The electrical energy is produced by converting the potential energy of a flowing fluid, which is water, into mechanical and then electrical one. Hydro power is attractive if there is huge a water fall near a big city. But such a scenery is hardly found everywhere. Many big waterfalls are located far from densely populated areas. Building a big hydro power plant in remote areas needs various kinds of considerations both from technical and economical points of view.

If we travel to villages in the mountainous region, we will see that many of them are under-developed due to their isolated locations. It is the task of a government to stimulate development. The most suitable way for accelerating development is by installing power plants that use renewable energy.

In many cases, remote villages are located near high slope rivers and waterfalls.

I have an interesting story for you. Two year ago, I traveled to Tincep, a small village in Sonder district, Minahasa Regency, the Province of North Sulawesi. This village has three waterfalls which can be utilised to generate electricity. If we construct power plants in those waterplants we can supply electrical energy for the village and more than one hundred villages and towns in the region.

Special scheme can be adopted to construct such hydro-powerplant. Private companies build the power plant and sell the electricity to PLN (the only state owned electrical company). The some of the revenues from the plant can be given to village authority for the development of the village.

By getting enough supply of electricity, the village will be able to promote their own export comodity i.e. various kinds of tropical flowers which have been famous in the province. Tincep village has three waterfalls (one of them is shown in the picture) and flower market. The flowers are displayed in front of the villagers houses.

Electricity is also needed by the Sonder district and Minahasa region to promote tourism industry and attract tourists or travellers from around the world. North Sulawesi is one of tourists destinations in Indonesia besides Bali, Yogyakarta and Toraja. There are many hotels in Manado, Tomohon and Bitung. Minahasa also has a world class underwater coral in Bunaken sea park. Other attractions from Minahasa villages are their farming activities, food, traditional customs and active volcanoes. We will be able to better promote the region if we have enough supply of electricity.

Hydro power in the form of micro-hydro power plant is more cost effective for small villages. They don't need a lot of money to install.