Technical improvements for Chipopoma mini hydro plant a success!

17th April, 2023

Last September the CESET team returned to Chipopoma mini hydro plant, a community-based mini-hydro developed led by John Sailence, that supplies electricity to the Manchewe community in Khondowe, Livingstonia. 

Whilst John’s efforts had been innovative in the design of the mini-hydro plant to divert water from the head of the Manchewe river waterfall to operate a generator coupled with hydraulic turbine to provide electricity for the community, the CESET team provided technical advice and funding to buy materials to introduce technical improvements to protect the plant and its future reliability.

John consulted with the households to survey what they needed electricity for, noting many were relying on electricity for cooking as deforestation sadly continued. He then used this information to determine which households required 15A or 30A and business and factories were allocated 63A.

Recent improvements included installation of: 

  • a main switch in the control room and a new generator supplying power up to 53kv
  • new circuit breakers in the households to ensure they could not use more than their allocation
  • a new metal oxide polymeric lightning surge arrester to protect against lightning

John was pleased to report that the new system was working really well, and they had not had any problems with the new transformer.

Currently over 100 households were being supplied with electricity, along with the Mushroom Farm, tourist camp, a home craft centre with bakery and tailoring, the maze mill, a barber shop, bottles stores and bars.  More households and business were showing interest in connecting to the system. With the pipe infrastructure already in place, future plans included buying a bigger generator to produce 170-200 kvA.