I’m providing electrical engineering support to TONIBUNG. In my first few months, I’ve discovered that the staff at the workshop are knowledgeable in manufacturing and skilled at installing the micro-hydro turbines, but are not as confident with the electrical installation. Training has been provided in the past to enable staff to install these generators, but the electrical principles have not been the focus of these sessions.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to focus on hands-on electrical training, sharing techniques for the various type of connections that are usually needed.

Currently, staff only have access to one multimeter to test their work. With the help of partner Green Empowerment, we hope to be able to equip each member of staff responsible for electrical wiring with a tester. This will mean staff have the necessary equipment to complete and test the electrical installation.

I’ve visited three different sites since I’ve been here, each for four to five days. Two of the visits involved assessing and re-commissioning existing micro-hydro plants. At the third site, I helped with solar PV work, as well as the electrical installation for the micro-hydro. We installed a prototype valve control system to enable the pico-hydro system to run even during a low flow period.

Since joining the team, I’ve also been working with former Engineers Without Borders UK volunteer Dan Frydman, who has continued working with TONIBUNG. Dan is focusing on an electronic load controller as part of a Green Empowerment project. We often work together, particularly on the testing of the turbine-generators at the test rig.

As well as providing electrical support and training, I’ve also designed a level switch to make more efficient use of the micro-hydro turbines, which we’ll install soon. Other things that I’m going to be involved with are:

  • Designing a flow control mechanism to regulate the output of the turbine, which would provide more efficient use of the water rather than dumping the excess of generation to a ballast load, and
  • Upgrading the existing test rig at TONIBUNG.