Yangyel Lhaden

After more than three years of inactivity, the wind turbines in Rubesa are finally set to return to service. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) is currently conducting on-site repairs and replacing gear systems in the turbines.

The Rubesa wind turbines, which used to generate around Nu 5 million annually, have not been operational due to issues with the wind blades and gears.

The pair of wind turbines was inaugurated in 2016 as part of a pilot project to demonstrate the technical feasibility of generating wind power in the country and to enhance energy security by diversifying energy supply through alternative renewable energy technologies.

It was developed at the cost of Nu 177 million(M) funded by the Asian Development Bank.

According to its Renewable Energy Management Master Plan (2016), the country has the potential to produce 12 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy and 760 megawatts (MW) of wind energy.

However, only 600 Kilowatt (Kw) of wind energy have been harnessed in the country through the wind farm, with each wind turbine having a capacity of 300 kW. The 600 KW wind turbines produce just 0.079 percent of the technically feasible wind energy potential of 760 MW in the country.

The wind turbines are connected to the national grid; at full capacity has the capacity to cater to energy needs of 300 households.

Until December 2020, the two turbines generated 4.82 million units of electricity, generating an income of Nu 24.566 M. On average, the turbines generated 1.2 million units of electricity every year.

“We are conducting feasibility studies for wind farms in Gaselo and Rubesa with a capacity of about 23 megawatts,” an energy department official said. “We are currently working on the project structure, but intermittency in power generation from such resources remains a challenge.”

The official also highlighted the challenges in locating suitable sites for renewable technologies, particularly those that necessitate large tracts of land, such as utility-scale solar farms. “There is an apparent conflict of land use by communities. Getting community and environmental clearances is increasingly difficult.”

The bigger issue, he added, was securing financing to develop renewable energy resources.

Meanwhile, as an integral part of achieving energy security, the 13th Plan looks at developing 500 MW of alternative renewable energy by 2029 and increase it to 1000 MW by 2034.