In his address to the Nation on 17 December 2013 National Day celebrations, His Majesty The King emphasized that “hydropower is considered as our nation’s most precious resource that belongs to all the people.” His Majesty The King reemphasized this in his address to the Nation at the 17 December 2014 National Day celebrations and cautioned that the hydropower resources must not fall into the hands of one or two individuals.
Druk Green plays a very important role in ensuring that Bhutan’s hydropower resources stay with and that the benefits accrue to all the people by effectively and efficiently managing the existing hydropower plants and taking a lead in accelerating the development of the sector. Druk Green has benchmarked itself to the best international standards in the operation and maintenance of its power plants and year on year has ensured the highest levels of power plant availability and water utilization factors – key performance indicators for hydropower generation utilities. To sustain the sector and towards ensuring Bhutanese ownership, Druk Green has built core competencies in the “water to wire” business with major emphasis being placed on building human capacity in undertaking site investigations, preparing design and engineering, structuring projects, and in the construction of projects.
The construction of the 126 MW Dagachhu project was completed during 2014 and readied for commissioning – a major milestone for Druk Green since its creation in 2008. Druk Green also started with the infrastructure works such as bridges and roads for the 118 MW Nikachhu project. With the successful completion of the 1.5 km tunnel in June 2014, the Tsibjalumchhu was diverted to the Tala reservoir for additional generation at the Tala hydropower plant. The service center for reclamation of hydro-mechanical equipment at Jigmeling, a joint venture with Alstom France, started commercial operation in October 2014. With the Inter-Governmental Agreement for Joint Venture Projects between Druk Green and Government of India Public Sector Units signed between the two Governments in April 2014 and the Shareholders’ Agreement for the 600 MW Kholongchhu hydroelectric project concluded with SJVN Ltd in September 2014, the joint venture projects are set to get off the ground in 2015.
Druk Green started the preparation of the Detailed Project Report for the 1,230 MW Kuri-1 project upstream of the existing Kurichhu hydropower plant. During the year, Druk Green also submitted the Pre-Feasibility Reports for the Gamri (45 MW+85 MW) and the Nyera Amari (131 MW+312 MW) projects to the Government. In the preparation of these reports and in the implementation of the projects, Druk Green continues to not only build internal competencies but also help the Bhutanese private sector in developing their competencies in the hydropower sector.
2014 has also been a year of reflection and retrospection for the people of Bhutan. With more awareness on social and environmental issues and the realization that the 10,000 MW by 2020 target is no longer achievable, there is a lot more debate on the hydropower sector with people weighing the benefits against the likely negative impacts.
His Majesty the King, in his 17 December 2014 National Day address to the Nation, stressed that “… in the near future, we will be tasked with the implementation of 9 hydropower projects, which is a heavy responsibility for the government. It is good to be ambitious. From one standpoint, more is better and having something is better than not having anything at all. But we must also realize that increased workload compounds associated risks and possible failures. We must ask ourselves, ‘are we willing and able to take on this responsibility? Can our financial resources be matched by our human capital?’”
Albeit the achievements of Druk Green over the last seven years, the challenges are getting more diversified, complicated and compounded. The limited human capital that Druk Green has built up is spread thin. The need to build human capital with core competencies must continue to be our top priority, especially as we continue to expand and try to keep pace with new technologies. In meeting the aspirations of the people of Bhutan for a better future, Druk Green has a huge role to play as the custodian for this very important national resource – hydropower.