I was happy to read about DHI’s plans to carry out major investments in power generation, power transmission, construction, information technology, aviation, mining, cement production and telecom in the next four years. These investments will add considerable value to the commercial interests of the Royal Government, while also leading and stimulating private sector growth.
Of these investments, which, in total, are estimated to cost DHI about Nu 53 billion, I am most excited about DGPC’s project to start a hydropower construction company.
Our country is blessed with perennial, fast flowing rivers perfectly suited to generate environmentally friendly run-of-the-river hydropower. Our rivers are capable of generating as much as 30,000 MW of hydropower, almost 80% of which has already been identified as technically feasible. And our people have been harnessing hydropower since 1967 when the 360 kW minihydel at Jungshina, Thimphu was constructed.
But virtually all the work, from that first minihydel to the 336 MW Chukha hydropower project (commissioned in 1986) and the 1020 MW Tala hydropower project (commissioned in 2006) were carried out by foreigners, mainly Indians. Similarly, almost all the work on the 1200 MW Punatsangchhu hydropower project is being done by foreigners.
So I welcome the news that the DGPC will soon start a hydropower construction company. That, coupled with the government’s power training institutes and DHI’s investment ambitions, could mean that we may eventually be able to become specialists in run-of-the-river hydropower schemes. And that could mean that we may some day become a recognized authority in planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, financing and marketing clean, sustainable hydropower in Bhutan and beyond.