Staff at Ruebisa wind farm find an opportunity to learn 

The two wind turbines in Ruebisa, Wangdue that generate around Nu 5 million annually have not been operating due to issues related to the wind blade.

In mid-February, one of the two wind turbines faced issues with the wind blade.

Bhutan Power corporation’s site engineer at the wind farm in Ruebisa, Wangchuk, said that, with advice from the supplier, the other turbine (which was working) has also been turned off.

The wind turbines in Ruebisa, Wangdue

He added that an expert would arrive at the site on April 12 to investigate the issues related to the wind blades.

“We don’t know what the issue is yet. It could be because of a manufacturing issue or because of the wind quality as dust from the project sites are blown with the strong wind at high speed.”

Although the issue could have been resolved within a few days, the wind blades couldn’t be inspected due to the pandemic.  Wangchuk said that, initially, an inspector from Japan had planned to visit in March.  The visit was postponed because of the nationwide vaccination drive,

Wangchuk added that importing a crane, which needs to be more than 44metres (m) in height with a lifting capacity of 60metrictonnes was also a challenge.  The two turbines are 41m high.

“The cranes aren’t available in our country and they have to come from India. And, according to the protocol, they’ll have to be quarantined for 21 days. Within Bhutan, we did look for one but couldn’t find it.”

Today, the contractor company is also looking for a crane in India.

Challenge as an  opportunity 

The staff at the wind farm is taking this challenge as an opportunity to learn more about the wind turbines.

Wangchuk said that the two wind turbines were commenced in 2016 as a pilot project and, until 2018, the contractor (a Japanese company) carried out the maintenance work while also training BPC staff. “We did get hands-on training with them. After their contract period ended, since 2019 we’ve been doing the maintenance work.”

The hands-on training, Wangchuk said could be helpful in the government’s plan to diversify energy sources.

As per the Renewable Energy Management Master Plan, Bhutan can produce 760 megawatts (MW) of wind energy in technical terms.  Yet the country’s current installed capacity for renewables, apart from large hydro plants, only amounts to 9MW.

Wangchuk said that the government had plans to install turbines, which could generate 18MW in total at Ruebisa and Gaselo in Wangdue.

Further, the wind farm staff has also been providing data related to studying wind energy to students of College of Science and Technology.

“The pilot project is first of its kind and it’s to explore alternative renewable energy. I’d say that with experience, the hope is good for renewable energy,” said BPC’s distribution services, director, Sandeep Rai.

“Of course, there are challenges and opportunities. Challenges like this are inherent in new systems in pilot projects but we should look forward to the opportunities it provides.”

Until December 2020, the two turbines have generated 4.82 million units (MU) of electricity generating an income of Nu 24.566 million.

On average, the turbines generate 1.2MU of electricity every year.

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue