The 600KW wind power project is expected to earn about Nu 2.5M a year

Energy: The first wind turbines in the country will start whirling off power coinciding with the National Day celebrations in December this year.

The two wind turbines in Rubesa, Wangdue will together produce 600-kilo watts (KW) of energy, enough to light up more than 100 village homes.

Department of Renewable Energy (DRE) chief engineer Mewang Gyeltshen calls this, “a history in the making.”

He said everything is ready except for few materials, which have reached Maharashtra, India.

Recent preliminary research findings of the renewal energy department show the country has a potential 323-mega watt (MW) of wind power.

The country’s 600KW pilot wind power project at Rubesa would generate 1.21 million units of energy and earn about Nu 2.5M as revenue a year.

Tshimasham in Chukha, Chelela in Haa, and Rubesa in Wangdue were initially chosen for capacity and feasibility study in 2009. Of the three places, the Asian Development Bank consultant finalised Rubesa.

From the initial target of 1MW given the smaller roads not having the space for large equipment to pass, it was reduced to a 500KW project with two 250KW pilot wind turbines. Works on the project began in early 2014.

The Asian Development Bank has provided a grant of USD 2.08M for the project that was executed by DRE and implemented by distribution and customer services department (DCSD) of Bhutan Power Corporation.

The department is also promoting other alternative renewal energy such as biogas, solar and small hydropower, below 25MW.

Bhutan will take part as a member in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) beginning next year, Mewang Gyeltshen said at a stakeholders’ consultation on Hydro Met and various climate data services yesterday.

He was presenting on renewable energy department and its requirements of hydro met data.

The chief engineer said about 13,500 systems of cooking stoves and 2,800 biogas plants would be in place across the country by the end of this year.

The department’s renewable energy assessment’s preliminary results show a potential of 33,000MW from small hydropower.

While the government has been focussed on harnessing hydropower from the north-south rivers, the department is studying tapping of the tributaries for small hydropower.

The department is mapping various areas of the country based on the hydropower potential for smaller power plants. There are lots of work remaining, he said, to determine the real potential of the areas after removing the protected areas.

“By the end of the year, we’d be able to know what potential each dzongkhag has,” Mewang Gyeltshen, said.

Meanwhile, the department has identified Shingkhar in Bumthang for a 30MW solar power plant. It will complete a feasibility study of setting up the power plant towards the end of this year.

“The place is well connected with road and barren, so that’s why we want to tap on it,” Mewang Gyeltshen said.

Tshering Palden