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Bhutan’s hydropower potential, availability increases to 37GW

Bhutan’s hydropower potential, availability increases to 37GW

Bhutan's hydropower potential and availability is currently at around 37GW from 155 identified sites, including existing power plants.

This is according to the Power System Master Plan 2040 (PSMP-2040), a detailed master plan, which revised the PSMP-2004.

The plan identifies 90 sites having an installed capacity of about 33GW as techno-economically feasible.

The 2008 Bhutan Sustainable Hydropower Development policy estimated the overall hydropower potential of the country at 30GW with production capability of about 120,000GW.

PSMP-2040 excludes the six existing power plants, 13 earmarked projects and 20 sites with an installed capacity of about 25MW.

It also excludes three project sites requiring resettlements and another 44 sites whose components like dams, reservoir, waterway or powerhouse with an installed capacity of 8.6GW falling in protected areas.

The master plan, which was revised with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency, has identified 69 potential sites with a capacity to generate 14GW of electricity for further screening.

PSMP-2040 was revised to reassess the overall hydropower potential including techno-economic potential of Bhutan after having detailed hydrological information and data based on the newly established hydrological network and advanced planning technologies.

The revisions served to ensure judicious identification and selection of the promising projects after doing multi-criteria analysis (MCA).

They also aim to engage stakeholders in identifying, selecting and developing projects for optimum utilisation of river basin potentials based on market opportunities and the country’s absorptive capacities.

Presenting a synopsis of the master plan in the national Assembly on February 17, Minister of Economic Affairs Loknath Sharma said 18 potential sites were shortlisted to be harnessed by 2050.

The development plans for the 18 shortlisted sites are scheduled from 2031 to 2050 at and estimated construction cost of 608 billion ngultrums ($8.4 billion).

“The 18 sites were prioritised considering technical, economic, social, environmental impact and the state of development of the sites,” the minister said.

Out of the 18 priority projects, 14 are identified as run-of-river schemes to ensure minimum negative social and environmental impact and bring cumulative benefits to local communities through development or improvement of infrastructure like access to education, health, roads and economic opportunities.

PSMP-2040 recommends developing three projects, the 550MW Dorokha site, Pinsa (153MW) and the 414MW Chamkharchhu-II site between 2030 and 2035.

It recommends carrying out feasibility studies for these three sites at the earliest for early development.



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