Solar power more feasible than hydroelectricity in Lunana, PM

Member of Parliament of Khamaed Lunana, Gasa Yeshey Dem

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

Works on the mini-hydro power plant at Chuzachhu in Lunana, Gasa was supposed to start in 2021 and was to be completed by 2023, however, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said the project was stalled as the funding agency was affected by the Covid pandemic.

The question on the project of hydro power in Lunana was raised several times in the parliament and recently on 29 November,Yeshey Dem, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Khamaed Lunana, Gasa raised the same question on the status to establish a mini-hydropower. She asked whether the government has an alternate and better source of electricity for the gewog.

Back in 2020 there was an initial plan to establish a mini hydropower of 500 kilowatts (kW) with a budget amounting to more than Nu 600 million for Lunana gewog. However, the project progress came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic.

Based on the detail project report (DPR) study of the mini hydropower project in Lunana of January 2020 conducted by Druk Green Consultancy (DGC) in coordination with Department of Renewable Energy (DRE), they estimated that the power demand of 500 kW was assessed and feasible only at Chuzachhu.

The DPR also stated that the project will reduce dependence on firewood with about 502 tonnes of firewood or 519 trees estimated to be saved annually.

MP Yeshey Dem also raised the issue of high dependence on firewood for cooking, heating and timber leading to around 70% depletion of the forest coverage in the area.

While responding to the query, the PM said that research and studies show that Lunana has high potential and feasibility of solar photo voltaic systems.

The PM added that the establishment of solar power plant is much more cost efficient and easier to maintain compared to hydropower projects.  

According to experts, the PM said around Nu 400 million would be required to establish the plant given that there are more than 200 household and the power and strength required in the gewog.

“We will try our best to provide with facilities as soon as possible,” he said.

According to the National Population and Housing Census 2017 (NPHC-2017), the gewog has a total population of 699 consisting of five chiwogs with 13 villages with a total of around 198 households.