Author: DGPC Media


Bhutan and EIB sign 150 million Euro loan for energy projects

Kuensel | Staff reporter | April 20, 2024

…to generate an estimated 310MW of renewable energy

Bhutan and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed the first-ever EIB project supporting reliable, green, energy for communities in Bhutan through a 150 million Euro loan with a tenure of 30 years.

The renewable energy framework loan was signed on the margins of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank spring meetings on April 17 between the Finance Secretary, Leki Wangmo and Acting EIB Global Managing Director, Markus Berndt, in the presence of the President of the EIB, Nadia Calviño in Washington D.C., the USA.

According to the press release from the finance ministry, Bhutan, being one of the only three net-carbon negative countries in the world, the project will support construction of small to mid-size run-of-river hydropower plants and solar photovoltaic generations to diversify the power generation mix to meet its ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution target of permanent carbon neutrality.

The EIB President, Nadia Calviño, said, “Bringing green, reliable and affordable energy to communities around the world, especially in more remote regions, has huge benefits not just in environmental terms but also by improving access to health, education and economic activity. That’s why I am delighted that we’ve been able to agree to this 150 Euro million investment with our Bhutanese partners, under the EU’s Global Gateway initiative. We look forward to working as a key partner for climate action and sustainable economic development in Bhutan.”

At the same time, the Finance Minister, Lekey Dorji said, “As Bhutan strives to maintain its carbon-negative status amidst rising global challenges, this partnership not only strengthens Bhutan’s renewable energy sector but also contributes to the broader regional and global effort in combating climate change. We welcome the EIB as our partner in our pursuit of the sustainable development goals and look forward to more collaboration in the future as we take forward our agenda of building a more sustainable planet.”

Bhutan is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and is committed to increasing access to energy without increasing carbon emissions.

With the 150 million Euro financing, it will support installation of an estimated 310 megawatts (MW) of hydropower and solar power generating capacity. The initiative is expected to generate around 670 gigawatt hours per year.

The new projects, to be implemented by Druk Green Power Corporation, will contribute to climate action, helping Bhutan to strengthen its energy security, and increase use of renewable energy.

Additionally, the expanded solar photovoltaic capacity will also address hydropower challenges during the dry season, reducing the potential need for energy imports when river flows and hydropower generation capacity are reduced. The project will also allow clean energy to be traded across borders, improve access to green power, supplying thousands of households with reliable and affordable energy, and allowing Bhutan to profit further from its renewable energy resources.

Agreement signed to establish International Solar Alliance’s STAR Centre in Bhutan

BBS | Samten Dolkar | April 15, 2024

The International Solar Alliance will be providing a grant of about USD 200,000 to 300,000 to Bhutan to advance the country’s solar technology. The fund will be used to establish a Solar Technology Application Resource Centre or STAR C at the College of Science and Technology in Phuentshogling. It is expected to become a hub for solar technology research, development, and application in Bhutan. This marks a milestone for the country since joining the International Solar Alliance in October 2022.

After obtaining membership in the ISA, Bhutan was identified as one of the three focus countries to establish the Solar Technology Application Resource Centre as a regional-level initiative under the International Solar Alliance and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

The centre aims to harness the abundance of sunlight in the region to drive innovation in renewable energy solutions.

It will serve as an important resource centre for both academic study and practical implementation.

“This is a laboratory where you will be testing the solar applications technology as well and there will be a training component. So, what it means is that the STAR C will be able to test the products that we will be importing to the country for solar energy, and it will also be a standard that we can use to see whether the solar products that we import are up to certain standards or not. And the lab will also provide training to the technicians who will go and install the equipment in the field, on the ground,” said Karma Tshering, National Focal Point of International Solar Alliance.

As a part of the collaboration, the Country Partnership Agreement for a duration of two years from April 2024 to December 2026 was signed between the ISA and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources for identification and implementation of the programmes and projects under the ISA’s support. For the establishment of the STAR Centre, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the ISA, and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Royal University of Bhutan.

The agreement includes broad proposals to enhance the deployment of solar technologies and applications in the country.

“This is a very important day in the history of the ISA because we have seen Bhutan as a great partner, partly, because in the winter months, Bhutan becomes a net importer of electricity instead of a net exporter of electricity. Consequently, we need to work with you, so that all the available electricity can be exported and as much as needed electricity within the country could be made by solar at comparable prices,” said Ajay Mathur (PhD), Director General of International Solar Alliance.

The College of Science and Technology says the establishment of STAR C will be a significant opportunity to enhance its capabilities.

“For a college that delivers engineering and technological programmes, what we are expecting from this STAR-C introduction is to train expertise who deals with hydropower, as well as solar power energy and renewable energy. What we are expecting out of this STAR-C is, in the long run, as a college when we embark on establishing the renewable energy related to the course, our students and faculty will be much more educated on renewable energy,” said Cheki Dorji (PhD), President of College of Science and Technology.

Under the ISA’s support, another USD 50,000 will be provided to Bhutan to install two solar-powered cold storages of five-metric-tonnes capacity in Paro and Zhemgang on a pilot basis.

Globally, the ISA’s mission is to mobilise one trillion US dollars of investments in solar by 2030 through joint efforts towards the objective of enhancing energy access, ensuring energy security, and facilitating the energy transition to solar as the preferred energy source in member countries for a carbon-neutral future.

TCC will decide on Puna-I dam by next month

Kuensel | Dechen Dolkar | March 28, 2024

The Phase-I geological investigation studies at the dam site and the right bank side of the 1,200MW Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project (Puna-I) have been completed. These studies were conducted by WAPCOS.

Phase-II is yet to commence.

The geological model must be evaluated and validated.

The Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Gem Tshering, said that the geological studies regarding the stability of the rock have been completed. WAPCOS, an independent consultant along with the project management, conducted the geological investigation.

Lyonpo said that WAPCOS will submit a report to the The Joint Technical Coordination Committee (TCC). The joint TCC will convene to review the findings.

Lyonpo said that during the joint TCC meeting, the experts from the other side will need to convince their Bhutanese counterparts regarding options that ensure the implementation of all remedial measures.

Lyonpo said that the decision would be contingent upon the joint TCC.

TCC will present the final decision to the PHPA authority, which will then proceed to finalize the course of action accordingly.

TCC is expected to convene and make a decision by the first or second week of April. Following this, an authority meeting will be promptly scheduled within a day.

One of Bhutan’s foremost concerns revolves around the safety and stability of the dam. This concern is rooted in the potential downstream impacts of any dam failure on lives and properties.

The Bhutanese side emphasised the importance of building a technically secure and cost-effective dam for the success of the project.

Multiple landslides on the right bank of the dam prompted the construction of the barrage. The project encountered the first landslide in July 2013, followed by incidents in August 2016, and January 2019.

Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit, the two governments have decided to review and finalise project-specific implementation modalities for new projects, including reservoir hydro projects.

Lyonpo said that the two ministries would collaborate to determine the most suitable modalities for implementing new hydropower projects.

Bhutan-India agree to cooperate in the field of energy

Kuensel | Dechen Dolkar | March 23, 2024

…two govts signed seven MoUs yesterday

Bhutan and the Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance co-operation in the field of energy efficiency and energy conservation measures in Thimphu yesterday.

The MoU  was signed between the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, government of India and the Department of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, government of Bhutan.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the exchange of seven MoUs between their respective foreign secretaries, further strengthening the scope and depth of the cooperation and friendship between Bhutan and India.

Both Prime Ministers agreed that the Bhutan-India energy partnership has the potential to benefit both countries by enhancing energy security, strengthening their economies, generating employment, enhancing export earnings, and contributing to the further development of industrial and financial capacities.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan, both governments agreed to review and finalize project-specific implementation modalities for new projects, including reservoir hydro projects.

The Government of India will also facilitate necessary access to financing from financial institutions in India as well as the market for power sales for new and upcoming hydro-power projects in Bhutan.

Both governments agreed to engage in the development of new energy projects in the fields of hydropower, solar and green hydrogen, including through the participation of Indian entities as strategic partners.

The two Prime Ministers agreed that there are unprecedented opportunities to further strengthen this mutually beneficial bilateral clean energy partnership, including through the development of new energy projects and trade in electricity.

It was also agreed that market access to Bhutanese power producers will be facilitated by applicable domestic regulations and procedures, through mutually agreed arrangements and delivery points.

The two countries also agreed to hold regular consultations for enabling investments in energy projects of Bhutan, and for ensuring seamless cross-border trade in electricity.

Both Prime Ministers agreed to expedite the movement on projects and initiatives based on the Joint Vision Statement for mutual benefit.

MoUs were also signed between the two governments on cooperation in sports and youth and the general supply of petroleum, oil, lubricants (POL), and related products from India to Bhutan.

An MoU was also signed on the agreement for recognition of the official control exercised by the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA) by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Additionally, MoUs were signed between the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority and the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission on cooperation concerning the sharing of reference standards, Pharmacopoeia, vigilance, and testing of medical products.

An MoU between the National Knowledge Network of India (NKN), National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Government Technology (GovTech), Agency (Druk Research and Education Network) on Peering Arrangement was also signed.

Furthermore, MoUs were signed on a joint plan of action on space cooperation between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Government Technology Agency.

Kuri-Gongri project’s DPR reveals 2,800MW potential

Kuensel | Dechen Dolkar | March 19, 2024

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Kuri-Gongri Hydro-Electric Project indicates a potential annual electricity generation capacity of 2,800 megawatts (MW).

The Kuri-Gongri Hydro-Electric Project’s DPR was undertaken by the Indian consultancy firm WAPCOS Ltd. This consultancy has been engaged in the feasibility study of the project since 2017.

The DPR, finalised last year, incurred cost totalling approximately Nu 400 million.

At present, the draft DPR is under review by the respective governments involved. The finalization of the report is expected to be completed by June.

The project site has been pinpointed in close proximity to the confluence of Kurichhu and Gongrichhu in Mongar.

As per the DPR, the Kuri-Gongri Hydro-Electric Project is projected to generate approximately 9,011.59 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy annually. The estimated cost of the project stands at around Nu 307 billion, calculated based on a levelised tariff rate of Nu 6.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

The project is expected to bring economic development for the locals in the area with revenue generation on Nu 30 billion annually.

The report highlights that several gewogs in Mongar, Pemagatshel, and Trashigang will be impacted by the project, with some facing the loss of farmland due to its implementation.

The project will be required to adhere to government guidelines concerning the acquisition of land and compensation for affected families.

This includes remuneration for acquired lands, structures, personal property, cultivable lands, and fruit trees, with a focus on minimising disruption to the livelihoods of affected families.

According to a project official, the project will be obligated to lease land and provide fair and generous rental fees, in accordance with government guidelines.

The project is anticipated to necessitate a total budget of Nu 739 million for rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) activities.

The project official clarified that the mentioned amount is exclusive of funds required for area development activities and compensation to be provided to families indirectly affected, whose crop yields or fruit trees will be impacted by the project.

The project is anticipated to be completed within a timeframe of 10 years from its commencement.

The project includes plans for greenbelt development, such as plantation along the boundaries of project colonies. Additionally, the inter-connecting roads of various project components within the colonies and working sites will be adorned with avenue plantation.

Furthermore, available space within the colonies will be designated for greenbelt purposes, facilitating the plantation of fruit, ornamental, and shade trees, along with shrubs and climbers.