Export not hampered by lockdown or the pandemic

MB Subba

The Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown has disrupted trade – export and import – but the country’s biggest export, hydropower has not been affected even as hydropower generation has increased by 14 percent.

It has generally been a good year for the country’s hydropower sector as rains arrived as early as late May, according to the Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC).

The overall generation of the DGPC power plants—Tala, Chhukha, Basochhu and Kurichhu—has increased to 3,724 million units (MU) from January to July 31 this year as compared to 3,248 MU in the same period last year. This is a 14 percent increase.

For the same period, expected revenues (in terms of the billings) increased from Nu 6,431 million (M) in 2019 to Nu 7,315M in 2020, a 13 percent increase.

Bhutan exports about 70 percent of the energy generated to India.

The DGPC, however, recorded a decrease of 8 percent in the domestic consumption for the same period. The consumption decreased from 1,383 MU in 2019 to 1,272 MU in 2020, mainly on account of a slight dip in consumption from April to July.

The decrease in consumption is attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting a few industries.

The Mangdechhu and Dagachhu power plants, which are subsidiaries of DGPC, also performed better this year, according to the DGPC.

MHPC as of July 31 generated 1,620 MU of power with an expected revenue of Nu 6,807M (in terms of the billings).

The Dagachhu’s performance this year has also been better with generation increasing from 156 MU in 2019 to 231 MU in 2020. Accordingly, the expected revenue increased from Nu 485M in 2019 to Nu 736M in 2020.

The generation of power at all the power plants is said to be taking place without any problems despite the Covid-19 pandemic with the full support of the government and other entities.

DGPC managing director Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said that the overall performance for the 12 months, however, would depend on the hydrology in the remaining months of the year. He said that the Mangdechhu was generating power at its full capacity.

“Export of electricity to India has not been affected despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dasho.

Hydropower revenues constitute at least 24 percent of direct revenues to the national exchequer and offset much of the balance of payments with India. DGPC contributes about 14 percent of the country’s GDP.

As the economic development is inexplicably linked with the growth of the hydropower sector, a strong growth in the hydropower generation is expected to offset the Covid-19-induced fall in GDP.