Hydropower: Should the initial deal on Kuri-I project succeed, it is likely that Bangladesh would be investing in Bhutan’s hydropower sector.

The most recent development in pursuing the 1125MW Kuri-I project is that the project might be considered for development through a trilateral co-operation between Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.

The project was initially envisaged as the Rotpashong project given its vicinity to the famous Rotpashong landslide between Mongar and Lhuentse. But as a number of projects would possibly be developed on the Kurichhu, Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) decided to name the project as Kuri-1 while conducting the investigations and studies for the detailed project report (DPR). His Holiness the Je Khenpo recently renamed the place as Dorjilung.

DGPC’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said Bangladesh has always been keen to get access to Bhutan’s hydropower and if a trilateral arrangement can be worked out, Bangladesh could be not only getting energy from Bhutan but also investing in Bhutan’s hydropower.  “But these are just initial thoughts and much needs to be done”

As of now there isn’t any funding modality worked out, and the managing director said it will all depends on how the project is structured.

However, the DPR investigations and studies have been completed to the level required. DGPC is in its last stages of finalizing the report and the DPR is expected to get approved within 2016.

The dam will be located about seven km downstream of Autsho at a place called Rewan. It will be about 135 m high from the deepest foundation. A headrace tunnel of 11 m diameter will carry the water to the powerhouse at the confluence of the Kurichhu and Shongarchhu.

With an estimated cost of about Nu 64B, excluding the Nu 6B cost of the transmission lines to the India-Bhutan border, the project is expected to generate about 4,500 million units annually. The cost is however expected to increase because of financing charges, price variations and other contingencies.

Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said the DPR does not include the likely earnings from carbon credit. “Maybe now with the positive outcome at the recent Paris Climate Summit, we could possibly see the carbon credit market emerging once again”

DGPC started the preparation of the DPR for the Kuri-1 project in the latter half of 2013. The Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) report that had recommended for an installed capacity of 1,230 MW. After reviewing the PFS and undertaking the detailed project power potential studies over the last two years, an installed capacity of 1,125 MW was recommended.

Meanwhile, the creation of the infrastructure such as roads and bridges would take at least one to two years and the project would thereafter take another five to six years to construct.

“The preparation of the DPR for Kuri-1 project gave an excellent opportunity to Druk Green to build its capacity for undertaking DPRs,” Dasho Chhewang Rinzin said adding DGPC undertook most of the field investigations and gathering of first hand data.

Considering the recent concerns with the quality of the DPRs, he said it would be beneficial for the long-term sustenance of the hydropower sector to allow DGPC to play an active and major role.

Tshering Dorji