Small is beautiful: How a Japanese micro-turbine is transforming a Nepalese village

Small is beautiful: How a Japanese micro-turbine is transforming a Nepalese village
By Chris BurnsRobert Hackwill
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Japan's Ibasei has installed six small turbines in Nepal, and transferred the technology, bringing light to the darkness of schoolchildrens' classrooms and their homes.


In this episode of Global Japan, we take you to Nepal's Himalayas, where schoolchildren have light in their classrooms thanks to a mini-hydropower generator called Cappa, created by Norio Kikuchi, CEO of the Japanese company ibasei. It is part of a pilot programme, backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), aimed at helping Nepal to help itself. Ibasei developed the Cappa in part as a response to the emergency situation in northern Japan that was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

We visit the village of Kalika, where students like seven-year-old Romina Gurung not only have light in their classrooms from the Cappa generator installed on a nearby river, but can also charge electric lanterns they can use at home. We follow Romina to her home, where she shows how she can study in her family hut that now has light.

​School headmaster Jaman Bahadur Gurung says the light allows classes to continue even if it rains and they must close the wooden shutters that otherwise darken the classrooms. He says the school has built a second building as more and more children come, thanks to the electrification.

The village women invite us to lunch to show us how they, too, charge their lanterns and mobile phones thanks to the Cappa, one of six generators installed in four locations in Nepal as part of the pilot project.

​We also visit the factory in Khatmandu which is starting to build Cappa generators with technology transfer and expertise from ibasei. Suman Pradhan, Project Coordinator at Nepal Yantra Shala Energy, says his company aims to make and export Cappas in the future on their own. Nepal helping itself: the objective of this pilot project, with the help of Japanese knowhow.

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