Kick-starting Druk Bindu, Gamri and Jomori HEPs

Public consultations are complete and work awarding processes have begun for the projects

The construction of 26 megawatts (MW) Druk Bindu-I and II in Samtse and 90MW Jomori hydropower projects in Samdrup Jongkhar will commence soon, according to the Energy and Natural Resource minister, Loknath Sharma, although the exact date is yet to be confirmed.

“The feasibility studies of these projects have been completed and the construction of Druk Bindu-I and II, and Jomori projects will commence soon,” the minister told Business Bhutan.

Similarly, the 54MW Gamri hydropower project in Trashigang will also commence soon as a phase two small hydropower projects. 

All public consultations have been done and approved. The tendering process has also been started. “For this, the government also talked with multilateral banks and new funding mechanisms,” the Prime Minister said during the 51st meet-the-press session Friday.

This comes after works on the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Druk Bindu Hydroelectric Power Project (DBHPP) in Tendu, Samtse started way back in June, 2016 by Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC).

In addition, the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) initially carried out the pre-feasibility studies and had suggested a capacity of 12 MW hydropower from the Bindu River in Tendu.

Similarly, DGPC has successfully completed the feasibility study for the Jomori Hydropower Project.

For the people of Lauri and Serthi, in the meantime, the project represents a beacon of hope, promising a future of consistent and reliable electricity. As progress unfolds, these communities eagerly anticipate the day when power irregularities will become a distant memory.

For instance, annual electricity generation from the existing hydropower plants in the country under operation last year was recorded at 10,752 million units (MU), of which 3,295 MU was consumed domestically, and 7,819 MU was exported to India.

Meanwhile, other small phase one hydro power projects include the 54 MW Burgangchhu Hydropower Project with the cost Nu 3.957bn in Nangkor Gewog, Zhemgang, followed by 32 MW Yunngichhu Hydropower Project located in Maedtsho Gewog, which is about 34 km away from Mongar-Lhuentse national highway with the cost of Nu 110bn and the 18MW Suchhu in Sangbaykha gewog, Haa with the cost of Nu 2.336bn.

The fund for this phase one hydro power project is through the commercial loans from India and at the same time working with others to mobilize fund, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

According to the State of The Nation’s report 2023, the annual electricity generation from the plants under operation in 2022 was 10,752 million units, of which 3,295 million units were consumed domestically, and 7,819 million units exported to India.

From the total gross revenue of about Nu 27.88bn generated in 2022, Mangdechhu Hydropower Plant (MHP) alone contributed about Nu 12.54bn in 2022.

In the meantime, Bhutan is also developing a national hydrogen roadmap and strategy to attract investments and diversify energy resources.

Minister Loknath Sharma said, “The roadmap has been prepared in-house and is in the process of being reviewed by international experts. The green hydrogen initiative is to diversify the energy mix from the entire value chain perspective.”

The Minister also said that hydrogen will be an important component in achieving the global ambition to avoid and reduce emissions and keep global warming within the 1.5 Degree Celsius goal through a move towards just energy transition.

For instance, Bhutan can de-carbonize the transport and manufacturing industry sectors through green hydrogen initiative. This also has the benefit of lifting the dependency on imported fossil fuels cushioning against the shocks of volatile fossil fuel market and supply chain disruptions. Product diversification will also provide economic diversification and better risk management.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu