Bhutan’s first wind power project in Rubessa to power 600 households

Bhutan will be setting up its first ever wind power plant in Rubessa, Wangduephodrang that is expected to generate power for around 600 ruralhouseholds.

“The calculation is that an average rural household’s power consumption of power will be about 1kW, so a 500kW wind power can power around 600 households,” said Karma Tshering the Director of Department of Renewable Energy (DRE), Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The Director said that energy generated from this wind power plant will be directly fed into the national grid.

The project sitework is expected to start by September this year, and it is expected to be completed within 18 months. It is an EPC (Engineer, Procure and Construct) contract which was handed over to the Bhutan Power Cooperation (BPC) in July this year by the Bhutan Electricity Authority.

“Energy generation from the wind is clean and does not result in any air pollution or negative impact on the environment,” Karma Tshering said.

The project is being executed as a pilot project to assess the actual performance of a wind power plant, both technically and economically.

Karma Tshering said, “The outcome of this pilot project and the availability of Wind Resource in the country will decide the future of wind power in Bhutan. The potential of wind power in the country can be only known once the ‘Wind Resource Assessment report’ is completed which is currently underway.”

The turn key cost of the project would be about USD 2.56 mn, which has been provided as a grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and about Nu 6 mn from Bhutan Government as counterpart funding.

The project would approximately cover four acres for two wind turbines and the plants. The two wind turbines will have three aerodynamic blades. As per the current assessment of the DRE, the annual energy production will be about 1.2 million units.

Karma Tshering also said that the project will be operated at a standard frequency of 50 Hertz with Plant Load Factor of 23% or higher. However, he said the generation will also depend on the availability of wind as the plant will generate electricity as long as there is a minimum wind speed of 5 meter per second. The plant will shut down automatically during turbulent wind conditions or when the wind speed is too high.

He said with such initiatives people will be exposed to a new technology of harnesssing electricity from wind which is a clean energy solution for the local and wider community.

Karma Tshering said that the plant apart from not consuming any fuel does not emit any Green House gas or other pollutants.

Economically, Karma said the energy produced from the plant will help reduce the import energy from outside especially in the winter months.

He said it will also lead to increased sale of energy during summer considering the current energy scenario of the country.

“The diversification of energy resource with such renewable energy sources will also contribute to energy security in the country,” Karma Tshering added. The plant will recruit an engineer and two or three technicians during the operation stage.

Karma Tshering said the site was selected at Rubessa since out of the three initial wind resources assessment sites (Tshimalakha, Chelela and Rubesa), the Plant Load Factor(PLF) for Rubessa was calculated at 23.2%.

The PLF determines the energy output from wind energy and for the best power generation it should be 20-40%. Tshimalakha was calculated at 9.6% and Chelela at 9.10%, hence Rubessa was found to be the best site with highest PLF.

On the efficiency and sustainability of the project, Karma said the efficiency can be determined only after the commissioning and operation of the project.

He also added that the exclusive operation and maintenance (O&M) of the project during the initial 2 years has been inbuilt into the turnkey contract. He said the revenue generated from sale of electricity from the project will cover the O&M expenses for the subsequent years. Being a pilot project, funding from donors or the Government will be requested for any major breakdowns.

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