Sustainability Assessment Of Micro Hydropower Projects: Kenyan Case Study
Kathumbi, Lilies Kathami
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This thesis assesses the sustainability of community-based micro hydropower projects in remote villages of Kenya. Currently, these projects are very attractive for rural electrification and private industries. The study reviews the Kenyan energy situation and energy indicators commonly used worldwide for assessing projects and systems sustainability. A suitable model for assessing sustainability of the micro hydropower projects was developed in accordance to International Hydropower Association guidelines. The model was based on five main dimensions: economic, social, environmental, market analysis and technical. From these dimensions, the study developed 23 sub-dimensions and 60 indicators for assessing hydropower sustainability. Data was collected via interviews using open emended questionnaires, group discussions and observation. The sustainability results of community micro hydropower projects were then compared to those of private/industrial hydropower plants as well as that of a solar home system. The research findings revealed that the Kenyan micro hydropower plants were within sustainable level with an average score of 3.12. Compared to solar PV home system, Micro hydropower was more sustainable. This was attributable to the reliability and affordability of micro hydropower whose Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) was found to be an average of 0.12 USD/kWh. Micro hydropower projects were of great significance to the communities in that they lead to; improved standards of living, improved the community’s energy independent, increased study hours for students, and enhanced harmony among the community members. The main challenge that faced this research was lack of documentation for community projects’ finances and operations.