Training schedule for small hydro power

16 January 2007



As depleting fossil fuel sources continue to drive growth in the renewable energy sector, the growing need for well trained and qualified professionals is becoming increasingly apparent. To help meet this need, the International Network on Small Hydro Power provides training to a range of different professionals in the small hydro field


The use of small scale hydro power is currently on the rise across the globe. Its growth is nothing new to those in the industry; it has been steadily increasing for years. And as the world’s supply of fossil fuels continues to dwindle and concerns over the environmental impact of CO2 emissions increase, it is likely that we can expect an even greater turn towards renewable energy, such as small hydro power.

China is currently the world’s leader in the use of small hydro power. In a relatively short timeframe China has managed to exploit approximately 39% of its current potential. Over 300M people in China enjoy the benefits of electrification through the use of small hydro power and capacity levels in the country are continuing to grow.

IN-SHP training

The International Network on Small Hydro Power (IN-SHP) was established in 1994, with one of its express goals being to provide training in all aspects of hydro power development. IN-SHP is an international coordinating and promoting organisation for the global development of small hydro power, utilising established North-South and South-South mechanisms. The activities that are administered at its secretariat rest on the basis of voluntary participation of regional, sub-regional and national focal points, relevant institutions, utilities and enterprises. Hence IN-SHP works on the basis of international ‘triangular cooperation’ between developing countries, developed countries and international organisations. Today IN-SHP is composed of more than 300 members, including government ministries, international development organisations, hydro development companies, equipment manufacturers and research institutes. And from this time the organisation, based in Hangzhou, China, has been continually increasing its training capacities.

Since its inception IN-SHP has provided training to over 600 engineers from more than 60 different countries. The workshops are typically co-organised with the local government and/or other international organisations such as the UNDP, UNIDO, E-8, G77, GTZ, EREC, OLADE and others. Training workshops typically cover issues such as site selection, design, operation and maintenance, equipment manufacturing as well as policy and finance issues.

The goals for each training workshop vary, but most feature some sort of regional or set operational focus. Some training courses for instance are very broad in their content; others are designed specifically to train technicians in equipment usage. The purposes of the training are to: disseminate China’s small hydro experience; train small hydro experts for developing countries; enable developing nations to improve their capacity for constructing small schemes; and stimulate the export of Chinese techniques and equipment to help domestic enterprises

IN-SHP also responds to requests from its members for specific technical or in-country training. Such requests have meant that IN-SHP has hosted at various locations worldwide. Past workshops include:

•Small Hydro Power Database Design, Ottawa, Canada, 1997

•Small Hydro Power Exploitation, Trivandrum, India, 1997

•Small Hydro Power Development for Latin American Countries, Quito, Ecuador, 1997

•Small Hydro Power Development for Cuba, Bayamo, Cuba, 1998

•Small Hydro Power for Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica, 2001

•Small Hydro Power Workshop for South-Asia Countries

•Micro Hydro for the Philippines, Hangzhou, China, 2003

•Training Workshop on Small Hydropower Operations, Uliasti, Mongolia, 2004

•Micro Hydropower development, Simbu, Papua New Guinea, 2004

•EU-China Renewable Energy Workshop for Synergy Program, Hangzhou, China, 2005

Funding for each workshop comes from different sources. In order to improve skills and training in developing nations, participants from developing nations are either wholly or partially funded for their training by various Chinese ministries, UNIDO, the UNDP or a combination of all of these bodies. However many trainees are self funded.

Forward thinking

IN-SHP generally takes a holistic approach to its training. Hydro power personnel truly need skills that are well beyond the reach of a single engineering degree. Specialists require expertise in fields such as mechanical, civil and environmental engineering, as well as in policy, maintenance and operation. IN-SHP training helps to fill this void. The benefit of such a course is that it provides very detailed training in all areas of small hydro power design, construction and management. Policy issues are also discussed in depth. Such detailed, but broad, content is useful for participants who usually stem from a distinct educational background.

The training also acts as a forum for participants to share their own experiences with one another. Each workshop endeavours to produce concrete strategies and action plans upon its conclusion. Time has been set aside for the exchange of information and experiences with the hope of reinforcing this methodology as a norm between participants. Participants are all strongly encouraged to be actively involved in discussions as well as all the workshop processes. A follow up mechanism to support the knowledge disseminated at the workshop is also initiated by IN-SHP through the services provided by its membership network.

Training courses include both long and short term courses as well as some on-job training, with three different training courses outlined below.

Regular training: Africa training course, Hangzhou, China

Africa is one of the target areas for IN-SHP’s work. At the end of 1999, according to the World Energy Council, the total developed potential of Africa’s hydro power sources was a meagre 2.9%. Today, this number has risen slightly, with 5-7% of potential fully developed, despite the fact that Africa represents the world’s greatest untapped potential small hydro reserves. According to the United Nations African Recovery programme, the potential that exists in the Congo is alone enough to sufficiently supply Africa with three times its present consumption. And with so many of the continents nations still gripped by poverty, small hydro potential represents an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution to energy supply problems.

The center’s most recent training course has just wrapped up in Hangzhou, the course was specifically designed for African members. The course aimed to educate more African specialists in a broad range of small hydro related topics, with a particular emphasis on the management of facilities. Training began on 10 October and finalised on the 23 November 2006. The 45-day long training course attracted attendees from more than 10 different African nations, including Tunisia, Zambia, Somalia and Cameroon. Participants came from varied professional backgrounds, many were engineers working for NGO’s, others however were government officials or ministers, even private sector employees. The workshop was conducted in three languages - Chinese, French and English.

The course was very intensive and left little time for relaxation. The training included daily lectures by IN-SHP staff as well as some guest lectures by industry or manufacturing representatives, such as Professor Yu of the Zhejiang Water Survey and Design Institute. Attendees were witness to lectures by some of China’s leaders in the small hydro field. Content covered included an extensive introduction on small hydro projects in China, examining the history and development of small schemes in the country. Other topics covered included: data acquisition and analysis; economic evaluation processes; tariffs; policy issues; feasibility studies; Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) application; operation, maintenance and management; environmental impact assessment; international financing; and domestic equipment manufacturing

Case studies were also presented, including some by the participants themselves. There has also been a strong emphasis on new computer technologies and their uses in helping to identify station problems.

Weekends were frequently dedicated to site visits. Trainee evaluations indicate that site visits are of great assistance. They enable the participants to see Chinese equipment in action and to gain greater understanding of the overall design and workings, in a practical sense – instead of just in a classroom. Although many participants are well versed in the theory and design of small hydro power installations, due to limited sites at home, they have had little chance to actually gain first-hand practical knowledge.

The course culminated in an exam held during the final week of the training. All participants were required to participate in the examination, which serves to act as way of assessing the student’s knowledge and assessing the success of the training. Upon successful completion of the examination, participants were issued with a certificate of involvement in the training.

International training/workshop on small hydropower, Kathmandu, Nepal (8-11 July 2005)

Nepal has a considerable hydro power potential of 83,000MW, of which 43,000MW is economically feasible, yet only 39% of the population has access to electricity. Expert exploitation of Nepal’s resources would significantly alleviate the country’s status of energy poverty, leading to significant socio-economical improvements to the lives of rural residents, whilst preserving the ecological environment, and negatively impacting on the amount of CO2 emissions. The purpose of this workshop was to build the capacity of small hydro power stakeholders and policy decision makers in Nepal to effectively facilitate the removal of barriers to development, especially in the private sector.

The key issues focused on were technological, financial and policy barriers. Productive use is essential to ensure the socio-economic development of the end-users in Nepal, which is of significant interest to both private developers and policy decision makers. Key to achieving these goals the workshop tried to create a communicative platform for policy makers and the private sector to mutually address the relevant issues. The workshop ultimately aimed to improve the living standards of rural communities, to help meet the Millennium Developments Goals by increasing energy consumption in rural areas, whilst simultaneously protecting the environment in Nepal.

In total forty-eight participants from Nepal, India and Tanzania, Sri Lanka and China took part in the four-day workshop. The workshop was designed to impart as much practical knowledge as possible within the timeframe given, and endeavoured to produce strategies and action plans in conclusion. As with all the short term training, the goals were naturally less ambitious as the content which can be covered in such a short time is considerably reduced. However attendees were lectured in a number of different topics:

•Feasibility studies

•Equipment selection

•Hydrology and geology

•Policy issues

•The potential for private development

•Case studies in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Participants were also strongly encouraged to be actively involved in group discussions. Time was set aside for the exchange of information and experiences with the hope of reinforcing this methodology as a norm between participants. A follow up mechanism to support the knowledge disseminated at the workshop was later initiated by IN-SHP through the services provided by its membership network.

On-job training

Long term job training is a different form of training which is offered on an ongoing basis at the center in Hangzhou. This training is of a longer duration than the regular training workshops; it usually runs for six months or more at the centre, with further support offered upon return to the participants respective home countries.

More than 10 participants have completed on-job training at IN-SHP. The programme began in 1996; past trainees have come from Cuba and Nigeria. The training is very individual and designed specifically to meet the needs of each candidate. Most participants are qualified engineers with experience, but require greater understanding of the small hydro industry. They work with the center’s Chinese staff and participate with them in Chinese projects as well as projects in their home countries. By the end of the training process it is hoped the candidates are well rounded and skilled professionals in small hydro technologies. Due to the high level of commitment required, the cost and the length of stay in China, on-job training is difficult to implement on a large scale but it remains an important adjunct to the other forms of training provided at the centre.

The centre currently has three participants from Nigeria receiving on-job training; Sulaiman Ismalia, Collins Nwanokwai and Felix Burbwa. All three men are engineers, working for the Ministry of Water Resources in Nigeria. During the next six months these men will have the opportunity not only to avail themselves to the extensive resources provided at the centre, but also to collaborate with Chinese counterparts on current projects. The chosen participants are all currently employed and heavily involved in Nigeria’s hydro power programmes and they will all begin to utilise their new skills immediately. Sulaiman Ismalia, for instance, upon his return to Nigeria will immediately step into the role of project supervisor for a 200kW scheme on the Waya dam in the Bauchi state of Nigeria.

Future Training

On average, the centre hosts 4-5 training workshops a year, although participants have indicated there is a need for more training. IN-SHP hopes to extend its training schedule to include specific CDM training. At the moment CDM lectures are a part of most training courses, but it is expected that in the near future IN-SHP can host more comprehensive CDM training. The CDM arising from the Kyoto Protocol is one innovative financing methodology, which can encourage the commercialisation of hydroelectric projects. The CDM also offers small hydro project developers an opportunity to gain crucial financing for projects that may be too small or focused on rural development to attract sufficient private sector investment. Currently IN-SHP’s role in the CDM process is to act as an intermediary and to promote CDM projects to carbon credit buyers. China received approval for its first CDM project in December 2005. Several of IN-SHP’s staff are specialists in the CDM field.


Author Info:

For more information contact Lesley Harvison, International Network on Small Hydro Power. Email: [email protected]

Turbines Turbines
Sites Sites
Site 2 Site 2
To be confirmed To be confirmed
Observing Observing
Site visit Site visit


Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.