Single to three phase switch to take time

June 15 | Kuensel
By Esori Waglay

Lack of budget and huge investment requirement has delayed the conversion of rural electrification from single to three phase, economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma said.

However, Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC), he said, will take up the conversion works when investment becomes financially viable.

Maenbi Tsaenkhar MP, Choki Gyeltshen, raised the concern of people from villages, which are currently connected with single phased power line and are in need of an up gradation.

He also questioned the minister on the government’s plans and activities to increase power supply in those villages.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that, the idea of providing electricity to the whole of Bhutan by 2013 has led to single phased electrification in rural area. The single-phase electrification was chosen because it was faster, easier and cost effective and also in line with rural electrical demands at that time. “Reliability has become a more serious issue today because of how the electrification had to be done then,” he said.

However, with the advent of equipment and the coming up of rural small industries, the load requirement of electricity has increased. People also buy equipment and machinery that are not feasible for single phased power line without knowing the capacity of electricity supply.

He added that, while conversion of rural electrification is important to rural life development, upgrading it to three phase at once is not possible. “Upgrading to three phase electric power is costly and economically not viable,” he said.

BPC, Lyonpo said, shall upgrade whenever feasible.

Moreover, BPC is currently updating its master plan for up gradation dzongkhag wise. By December, the master plan for 10 dzonkhags will be completed. The remaining ten will be covered next year. “Options to upgrade single phase to three phase are being studied as well.”

Meanwhile, Lyonpo pointed out that another alternative would be to use single phase convertor to meet the immediate demand of people from rural areas. Typically, the cost of such conversion starts at about USD 2000 per unit for 10 horsepower (HP) or 7.3 Kilowatts (kW).

This option comes with a cheaper possibility for immediate use as compared to the cost of conversion of lines and transformers altogether.

“However, such equipment are not commonly used by utilities and BPC is not sure how they might impact the supply system,” Lyonpo said.

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