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Bhutan — Chendebji Microhydro Project

Microhydro power
Key Objectives:
  • To promote rural electrification in the Kingdom of Bhutan, where the eletrification rate remains low.
  • To improve living conditions by reducing indoor smoke from firewood and kerosene use, providing lighting to allow studies and cottage industry activities, such as weaving, after sunset.
  • To provide access to improved education through new electric learning devices, including computers.

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Chendebji, Bhutan
Completed in 2005
The inhabitants of the remote village of Chendebji, nestled in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, are now enjoying the benefits of clean, modern electricity generated by a microhydro station built by the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP). The 70 kW run-of-river type facility was inaugurated in August 2005 in the presence of officials from the Bhutan Department of Energy and the National Environment Commission.

Despite the ambitious rural electrification plan currently being implemented by the Kingdom of Bhutan, many remote Himalayan villages such as Chendebji will likely not be connected to the national grid for many years to come. Rural electrification initiatives such as this project thus represent the only means for these villagers to improve their standard of living and ensure the sustainable development of their village.
The project was carried out in close collaboration with the Bhutan Department of Energy/Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Finance and the National Environment Commission.
Situated on the Lamchela Chu River, 2,500 metres above sea level in the Trongsa district in the heart of Bhutan, the village of Chendebji consists of some 50 households, a dispensary and a school. During public consultations held in 2003 and 2004, villagers expressed their desire to have access to electricity and explained that they had witnessed the economic development brought about by electrification in other villages in Bhutan. The project aims to promote rural electrification in the Kingdom of Bhutan, where the eletrification rate remains as low as 35%.
Access to electricity brings major improvements to the lives of the villagers, including:
  • Lighting to allow studies and cottage industry activities, such as weaving, after sunset;
  • Better health conditions by reducing indoor smoke from firewood and kerosene use;
  • Powering local dispensaries and medical devices;
  • Decreased firewood collection chores, allowing more time for agriculture and other income-generating activities;
  • Access to new electric learning devices, including television and computers, to facilitate education for children and adults.
Construction plans respected the villagers’ traditional land uses for farming and animal husbandry. The powerhouse was built in the traditional Bhutanese style. At the request of the villagers, excess energy produced by the plant will be used to heat water which will be made available, at the powerhouse, to all the village’s families. Finally, additional transmission/distribution lines were added to the original project scope to ensure electrification of several remote houses and a local temple.
Chendebji Power House (with typical Bhutanese architecture) 
To further reduce the use of wood for cooking and heating, the Partnership has facilitated the purchase of rice cookers and water boilers for each household in the village and is looking into possibilities for improved cooking and heating stoves and better ventilation at the village school. Not only do these actions have a positive impact particularly on the health of women and children, who spend many hours a day in poorly ventilated houses with open fires, it also frees up time spent gathering wood. This is of particular importance as the village is located on the edge of one of the largest and richest natural conservation areas in Bhutan.
A Bhutanese contractor won the international tender for the construction of an intake, a settling basin, an 800-metre penstock, a powerhouse and transmission/distribution lines. Construction began in August 2004 and was completed in August 2005.

Left: Mr. Masao Ikoma, Kansai Electric Power Company



Right: Bhutanese officials
at the inauguration ceremony


To date, 50 households in the village have been connected to the Chendebji power station, affording the local community better quality of life. The onset of electricity generation contributed to the development of small enterprises, including a store and a restaurant built near the village, all contributing to the local community’s development.

The Bhutan Microhydro Project was officially registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol in May 2005. Not only was this the first CDM-registered project for the Partnership, it was also the first CDM project for Bhutan and the sixth to be registered in the world. The project’s first Certified Emission Reduction credits (CER) were validated in January 2007 and 474 CERs were issued in April 2007. These CERs were shared between the Government of Bhutan and the Partnership.

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