Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bhutan: Hydro-Power

The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is the only Democratic Monarchy in the World. In the late 1980s, Bhutan's University of Oxford-educated king famously asserted that gross national happiness (GNH) was more important than gross national product (GNP), and yes, he meant it seriously!! An interesting assessment of the Kingdom's recent modernization plans and its impact on the culture can be read at TechReview.

However, what really interests me is how it is self-sufficient in its energy demands (although not too much consumption!!) using ONLY hydro-power.
Here are some facts..
* Bhutan’s total electricity output from the major hydro-power projects as of September 2004 stands at 445 MW.
* Total domestic consumption is 105 MW.
* Bhutanese currency is the ngultrum (Nu). The approximate exchange rate is Nu 42 for one US dollar. The ngultrum is on par with the Indian rupee (both the Nu and Indian Rupee can be used in Bhutan).
* The hydroelectricity power sector is the single biggest revenue earner of Bhutan. This is achieved by exporting excess power to India. According to the government sources, by the year 2006, Bhutan would be exporting about 6,400 MUs of power annually. The revenue from hydropower projects along with earnings from the other traditional revenue sources could reach about Nu. 15 billion annually.
* Bhutan’s hydro-electricity power potential is estimated at over 30,000 MW. Out of which, safe and exploitable water resources potential are estimated at 16,000 MW.
* The major hydro-power projects in Bhutan are -
1.Chukha (fully operational) 2.Tala (under construction), 3.Kurichhu (commissioned in 2002), 4.Basochhu (commissioned in 2005), 5.Punatsangchhu (MoU signed)

Related Links:
Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan Power Corporation
Department of Tourism - Bhutan
Bhutan News Online
The Centre for Bhutan Studies
Embassy of India, Bhutan
CIA World Fact Book - Bhutan

Update: Other countries with more than 90% hydro-power of the total installed capacity include Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Paraguay, Zambia, Norway, Congo, Cameroon, Albania, Lesotho, Tadjikstan, Brazil, Georgia and Nepal. Hydro-power share in India's total capacity is around 26%.


At 12:21 AM, July 28, 2005, Blogger Kiran said...

India is not pushing enough to develop the hydro-power resources in Bhutan. In fact we are not pushing hydro-power in India. The Brahmaputra's U-turn in Arunachal Pradesh and its hurtling down from the Himalayas has a potential for 80,000 MW (maybe with some exaggeration). Sikkim will see its per capita income reach one lakh rupees by 2015 based mainly on hydro-power sold to the rest of the country. Makes you think of the potential in not just Arunachal, but also Uttaranchal, Himachal and J&K.

At 3:28 AM, July 28, 2005, Blogger fullymubbed said...

Thanks for the comments.

Bad News:
Although the energy demand in India is expected to grow at 5.2 percent and the country has a total hydro-power potential of 1500000 MW (5th in the world), our installed capacity today stands at a meagre 32000 MW. Also, our small hydro potential stands at 15000 MW of which only ~1500 MW has been realised. Small hydro projects (SHPs) still face a lot of contraints (private capital flow, land acquisition, etc) and there are no proper regulations (environment, etc) either.

Good News:
The Govt. is keen on developing hydro-power units and last year, unveiled the "50,000 MW Hydroelectric initiative" - the development of 162 new Hydroelectric Projects spread across 16 States to be implemented by the end of 12th Five year Plan (year 2017). In fact most of the potential basins have been marked.

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