Hydropower, Bhutan’s most valuable export, is likely to suffer production loss this year

Hydropower, which is one of the most important sectors of Bhutan’s economy, has recorded a 12.7 percent decrease in generation in the first eight months of the current year in comparison to the same period last year due to flow issues in various dams

Sep 23, 2021
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Bhutan

Hydropower, which is one of the most important sectors of Bhutan’s economy, has recorded a 12.7 percent decrease in generation in the first eight months of the current year in comparison to the same period last year due to flow issues in various dams. In 2020, hydropower power export accounted for almost 57 percent of its total exports and almost 18 percent of its GDP.  

Between January to August this year, electricity generation fell to 10,520.778 GWh from 12,046.747 GWh in the same period a year before, Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) was quoted as saying by Kuensel. So far, a total of six hydropower plants are operational. One of the plants suffered repeated disruption due to slitting issues. 

Almost 75 percent of the total power generated was exported to India. 

Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, the managing director of the DGPC, also said the hydrological flow wasn’t good this year. Power generation this year is expected to decline.  

In 2020, Bhutan’s economy contracted by almost 6 percent due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. However, hydropower was the only sector that hasn’t seen a decline in export. 

The power generation also suffered because of unscheduled maintenance and rectification work which was necessitated during the monsoon months. However, given the significance the sector holds in the country’s economy, authorities worked seamlessly to minimize losses, Kuensel said. ` 

The Tala plant, one of the six hydropower plants, was shut down on July 19 after large chunks of debris clogged the gates of the intake tunnels, due to heavy rain for days.

The significance of the hydropower sector could be understood by the fact that Bhutan’s Economic Ministry releases trade data separating the hydropower sector.

(SAM)