Nikachhu plant set to commission by December

Kuensel | Dechen Dolkar | October 16, 2023

The 118MW Nikachhu Hydropower Project in Trongsa is 96.29 percent complete and is expected to commission by the end of December this year.

The remaining major and critical works are lining and plugging of face-six and face-seven of the head race tunnel and some hydromechanical works at the dam, which will be completed by November.

According to the project management, the electro-mechanical testing for the various equipment installed inside the powerhouse is already being done and the final supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) integration and testing is currently ongoing and will be completed this month.

“Dam impounding will take place in November,” the project management said.

There were 173 employees in the project and currently, 112 employees are left with the project.

The project management said that tentatively around 57 employees will be recruited for the operation and maintenance of the plant.

The total approved project cost is Nu 11.89 billion (B), which is financed in the debt-equity of 65:35. The project has spent around Nu 12.8B so far.

The project official said that the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)’s levelized tariff is Nu 4.05 per unit and the initial quoted tariff starts at Nu 3.30 /kWh with annual escalation till 15 years. “The tariff will increase every year.”

The official said that the project faced numerous geological challenges right from its inception. The rock mass at the dam site was exceptionally poor, requiring the implementation of various additional measures and support systems.

The official said that in addition to dealing with challenging geological conditions, the project had to contend with significant water ingress, causing a considerable slowdown in the excavation process.

To address this issue, the project employed additional support systems and turned to polyurethane grouting.

“As we approach the commissioning phase of the project, we are pleased to report that these geological surprises no longer impede our progress,” the project official said.

The official said that a silver lining for this project has been the discovery of solid rock mass during the powerhouse excavation.

The project is a 100 percent subsidy company of Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC).