Wind power project awaits go ahead from National Environment Commission

The ministry is planning to construct two 180 mw pilot wind turbines at Tsimalakha in Chukkha but this may or may not be implemented as the logistics are unclear.

 

The Wind Power Pilot Project was initiated in 2009 by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) but the National Environment Commission (NEC) has not yet approved the environment clearance since it is worried about the possible disturbances the project will cause to the eco-system and biodiversity.

The ministry is planning to construct two 180 mw pilot wind turbines at Tsimalakha in Chukkha but this may or may not be implemented as the logistics are unclear.

The most suitable places that  have been traced for building wind turbines are Rubisa in Wangdue, Chelella in Haa and Tsimasham in Chukha because these places have strong wind power. The program coordinator of the Renewable Energy Division, Chimmi said, “A place like Rubesi is suitable as there is strong wind but Tsimalakha is nearer to the Indian border which will be beneficial in terms of the cost of production. This means we can reduce some of the expenses while bringing in raw materials from India”.

Chimmi said that the division is hoping by March this year, it will get all the details from  consultants in India who are assigned to check the feasibility of the project site and start working on it.

“In the first week of March we will get the interim report of the plan,” he said adding that hopefully, the authorities will get the environment clearance shortly.

The total cost of project has been estimated at USD 2.08 million which is equivalent to Nu 93.6 million (including contingency). The Initial Environment Examination (IEE) has been included in the project preparation; the IEE plan has been prepared as per the Asian Development Bank (ADB) safeguard policy.

The need for the project was felt because Bhutan relies heavily on hydropower. Furthermore, the existing power generation system has been unable to meet fast growing demands in the winter peak periods and for last few years the country has been shedding industrial loads.

However, talking to the official of National Environment Commission Thinley Dorji he said that, the renewable energy should undergo the Environmental Assessment Process (EAP)

“Until and unless they give us the detailed report on how they are going to mitigate the impact during construction and other important details, we cannot give away the clearance. Just by saying it is an environment friendly and zero emission we cannot give away the clearance overnight.”

He added that they are positive about the clearance regarding wind energy but the problem is that they will definitely have to acquire the clearance for Infrastructure. And if they are not providing proposal on information on environmental impact (IEA) we cannot give the clearance.

The NEC also clarified that whether it is a mega project or a small project it should undergo the Environmental assessment process.

The Department of Energy is however planning to produce 20 MW of renewable energy comprising 5 MW solar energy, 5 MW wind energy, 5 MW biomass and 5 MW from others. The target under category ‘others’ includes  renewable enegry-based decentralised distribution generation(DDG) projects, stand alone system, and modern energy technologies covering improved cook stoves, solar water heater, biogas, hybrid system  and so on.

 

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