Energy: The two wind turbines located on a hill behind Wangduephodrang Dzong have begun to win over the local populace.

Locals who once raised concerns about possible noise pollution from the wind turbines are now believers in wind  energy. They say the windmills don’t make more noise than the wind itself.

Rubesa is one of the windiest places in the country.

The two wind turbines were estimated to generate at least 660kw and benefit around 600 households. The two turbines stopped rotating for sometime after installation in January this year. However, both were fixed in a few months.

The general manager of the renewable energy department of the Bhutan Power Corporation, Dechen Choling said the turbines are stable and performing well.

He said that they have an office and a team comprised of an engineer, supervisor and a technician stationed near the windmills to monitor the turbines daily. They also monitor  the speed of the turbines every minute using an online system which is also accessed by the contractors who are based in Japan.

Since August this year, the windmills have been under a one-year guarantee or test period. The contractors have to return after one year to prove that the performance of the turbines matches the capacity they have guaranteed.

Dechen Choling said the minimum wind speed requirement is three metres per second for the turbines to be able to generate energy. The wind speed however usually slows down after 10pm.

While the two turbines are estimated to generate 600kw of energy, officials said it is not constant, as the generation  depends on the speed of the wind. Sometimes it exceeds the estimated generation and other times it does not.

The electricity generated is added to the grid and it is not exactly known which of the households are benefiting from wind energy. However, officials estimated that at least 300 households are benefitting.

The windmills are the first of their kind in Bhutan and is part of an Asian Development Bank project financed by Norway.

The two turbines were constructed with a grant of Nu 163 million (USD 2.7M). Construction began in 2014. The blades for the wind turbines were imported from Osaka in Japan.

The installation of the turbines was celebrated as a historic moment when it was inaugurated in January this year.

The initial plan was to install 24 turbines but it could not come through because the proposed sites fall under private land. However, the government is determined to work with the landowners and expand the number of windmills.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue