Photo courtesy @ Tandin Tshering

The Kingdom of Bhutan has abundant hydropower reserves with overall hydropower potential of 30,000 MW. As per the Power System Master Plan 2040 (PSMP-2040), the updated total hydropower potential is estimated around 37 GW from 155 sites out of which 90 sites having installed capacity of about 33 GW have been identified as techno-economically viable for implementation. 

Sustainable hydropower development is critical for Bhutan to reap the benefits of this huge hydropower reserves. The economic gains as a result of this development to the people of Bhutan in financial, economic, and social terms will be immense.

Also recognizing the need for domestic energy security through facilitation of self-contained supply flexibility for each Dzongkhag to meet the demand of household, institutional consumers and essential service providers in times of exigencies (which at other times could be fed into the grid), Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC)undertook strategic planning of a backup power supply system by harnessing abundantly available renewable hydropower resources through implementation of small and medium sized hydropower projects. Further, in the wake of the economic downturn with the Covid-19 pandemic from which recovery is likely to take some time, development of small hydropower projects across the country was initiated which will not only help to stimulate economic activities at the grass root levels but also help generate employment and engagement of the people in these difficult times.

Extensive desktop study and several stages of feasibility assessment were carried out from February to May 2021 to enable selection of the most techno-economically and socio-environmentally promising projects from an initial list of 190 projects. The initial list of 190 projects included 148 sites identified by the Department of Renewable Energy (DRE) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) and 42 sites identified in the PSMP-2040 in the capacity range of 1 MW to 50 MW. Through extensive screening process with technical as well as environmental &social considerations and subsequent to preliminary design and analysis of seven promising project sites, four projects namely Burgangchhu in Zhemgang, Yungichhu in Lhuentse, Suchhu in Haa and Thungdiri in Trashigang were identified as the techno-economically feasible projects. During the Feasibility Study undertaken by DGPC from June 2021, only three projects Burgangchhu, Yungichhu and Suchhu were considered.

Accordingly to implement the Phase-I small hydropower projects namely 54 MW Burgancghhu, 32 MW Yungichhu & 18 MW Suchhu Hydropower Projects, Druk Hydro Energy Limited (DHyE), a 100 % subsidiary company of Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC) was then incorporated on December 16, 2021 with registration No. L20211216BHU0641. Currently the corporate office of DHyE is located in Jigmeling, Dekiling Gewog, Sarpang.