The Kurichhu Hydropower Plant is located at Gyalpozhing, Mongar, on the Kurichhu River in Eastern Bhutan. It is a run-of-river scheme, with a dam of height 55 m (from its deepest foundation), crest length of 285 m and a surface power house located at the toe of the dam. The Project has an installed capacity of 60 MW consisting of four units of 15 MW each and a mean annual energy generation capacity of 400 million units (MU). The Kaplan turbine operates with a net head of 32 m and discharge of 53 m3/sec per unit. A unique feature of the project is the fish ladder for migration of fish.
The first 15 MW machine was spun on April 13, 2001. This first unit was synchronized to the Indian North Eastern grid on August 13, 2001, followed by the second unit on August 15, 2001, and the third unit on September 27, 2001. Commercial operation started from November 1, 2001. The fourth unit was commissioned on May 31, 2002.
The Kurichhu Hydropower Plant was formally inaugurated by HRH Trongsa Poenlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and H.E Shri Sudhir Vyas, Ambassador of India to Bhutan, on April 26, 2006.
During the initial years of operation, generation was frequently restricted during peak season due to outages in the single Kurichhu-Nangkhor-Tingtibi-Jigmeling-Gelephu-Salakati export transmission line. This has improved significantly especially after the commissioning of alternate power evacuation route to India through 132 kV Nangkhor-Deothang-Montanga-Rangia export transmission line in 2013. The power generated from KHP is exported to India through the Power Trading Corporation, India at current tariff of Rs. 2.12 per unit. This was last revised in December 2016.
With ever expanding rural electrification and with urban and industrial growth, the domestic consumption is increasing rapidly which results in decrease in revenue due to differential tariff between domestic sale and export of energy to India.
Electricity production since commissioning till December 31, 2017 is as provided below.
Renovation and modernisation
DGPC has initiated the installation of SCADA system at KHP. The SCADA system will improve efficiency, safety and enhance competency development. The SCADA system is under implementation through Bhutan Automation & Engineering Limited.
Socio-Economic Benefits and Sustainability
KHP provides power supply to eight dzongkhags in eastern and central Bhutan. Besides providing reliable source of electricity, KHP has established basic amenities, such as schools, hospitals and community centres, including a lhakhang. KHP also provides services through its ECCD centre and garbage collection facilities, and conducts annual religious activities for the benefit of KHP, as well as the local communities. KHP further continues to support its “Being Green Initiatives” through plantation of trees, greening of its surroundings, and creating awareness on social and environmental issues that confront the hydropower sector.