Historical Data Series: Bhutan Hydropower

Bhutan is almost entirely dependent on hydro power for its electricity. The total installed hydro capacity is 1,465 MW out of 1,490 MW. This capacity was only reached in 2007 at the end of the Ninth Five-Year Development Plan, at the start of which it was only 428 MW.
The country is endowed with a large hydropower generation potential, the total capacity of which is estimated at over 30,000 MW. The Power System Master Plan, worked out between 1990 and 1993, identified 91 potential hydropower sites with a capacity of more than 10,000 MW. Taking into account the sustainable use of water resources as well, an update in 2002-03 showed a feasible capacity for exploitation of more than 23,000 MW.
The government is now seeking to develop hydro not only for domestic use but to provide revenue through power exports. This will help contribute to Bhutan’s independence.
The Kurichi hydro project is being designed and built by NHPC of India and is owned by the Kurichi Project Authority of Bhutan. It comprises the construction of a 55 m-high concrete dam and 45 MW surface power house, with provision for a fourth 15 MW unit in the future. It is on the Kurichi River, which rises in the Himalayas in Tibet, flows for about 110 km through Bhutan, then forms the river Manas in India and flows into Assam, before joining the Brahmaputra. The project is being implemented with funding from India.
The 23.8 MW Basochhu hydro project, 90 km east of Thimphu in Wangdi Phodrang province has been funded by Austria. The powerhouse will contain two 11.9 MW Pelton turbines, and will supply power to the capital region.
A second project funded by Austria, along with Japan and the Asian Development Bank, is the 114 MW Dagachhu project near the Indian border. Power produced from the project will supply both countries. Commercial production from the project is expected in 2012.