Tap Hydropower Potential

BY GYALSTEN K DORJI
Aug 13, 2011

Bhutan is teaching Nepal how to exploit hydropower.

In an effort to discourage expansion of nuclear power generation by the government of India, Bhutan is encouraging Nepal to increase exploitation of its hydropower potential, it was revealed at the end of the ‘happiness and economic development’ conference, yesterday.

1117 Source: International Hydropower Association

While Nepal has vast hydropower potential, not much of it is tapped. Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley pointed out that, because of India’s increasing demand for electricity, its government is “compelled” to explore expansion of its nuclear energy power generation. “They’re already in discussions with various nuclear capable potential partners,” said Lyonchhoen.

He added that it is Bhutan’s intention to realise its own hydropower potential rapidly, to dissuade India from expanding its nuclear energy program. “We’ve already embarked on an accelerated mode to develop as much of our potential as quickly as possible,” said Lyonchhoen, adding, “with the hope that it will not compel India to explore the other alternative.”

Bhutan will supply 10,000 MW to India by 2020.

During peak load, India’s electricity demand is over 120,000MW. About three percent of India’s electric consumption is fed by nuclear energy.

Lyonchhoen pointed out that, in discussions with Nepal, including the recent visit of its environment minister, Sunil Kumar, Bhutan had urged Nepal to expand and increase its hydropower generation. “We’re trying to convince Nepal to engage in constructive dialogue with India so that, with India, they can actually begin exploiting and developing their hydropower potential.” Nepal currently generates only about 600MW, while its potential is theoretically estimated to be as high as 80,000MW.

Lyonchhoen also pointed out that Myanmar has high hydropower potential.

Lyonchhoen’s statements were made in response to a concern raised about the nuclear disaster in Japan, and the existence of nuclear energy generation in India and China.

“This is what we’re doing,” he said, “so we can all do something about situations like that, impossible as they may sound and appear to be.”

Lyonchhoen also said that he would be spending a night in Fukushima next month, the city afflicted by the nuclear disaster following the 11 March earthquake. He said the intention of the visit would be to show Bhutan’s solidarity with the Japanese people.

This article was first published at Kuensel Online.