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The Rangjung Small Hydro Plant located in the District of Trashigang (East Bhutan) is a project of the early rural electrification strategy of the RGOB. This strategy foresaw the electrification of the remote districts through decentralised small and mini hydropower plants and associated mini grids.

The objective behind the implementation of this project was mainly:

  • To stimulate economic and social development of remote Eastern Bhutan through electrification.

  • Now, let’s see how far the ongoing project is effective and efficient for the region:

  • All four project objectives (outputs) have been reached and the Rangjung SHP has been operational since more than 5 years. Thus, the intervention has been effective.

  • When looking at the efficiency of the intervention, it must be stated that the initial budget request (after capacity optimisation) stood at ATS 72.25 million.

  • This is an outstanding achievement as most hydro plant construction activities suffer from budget overruns.

However, when looking at the supply efficiency of the plant, the situation is less favourable since the economic viability of operation is currently not given as indicated above. The poor economic performance of the Rangjung SHP is not much improving as long as day-time loads are low resulting in an average plant capacity of about 15 to 20% only. This situation is likely to improve when excess power during off-peak hours can be put to economic use via the transmission line from Kuri Chhu. This should be possible towards the end of the year 2001. With this possibility, the full energy potential of the Rangjung SHP of estimated 17 GWh annually can be sold.

The impacts of the project on the people and the region are stated as follows:

  • The subsistence economy is largely intact in Trashigang and Trashiyangtze. Agriculture still occupies 57% of the surveyed population, while 25% are in government service, 9% in small commerce and 1% in industry.

  • The Government of Bhutan has a conscious policy of affordable electricity provision to rural dwellers, and the costs reported through the surveys suggest this is succeeding.

  • Hospitals are present at Dzonhkag level, and most Gewogs have a Basic Health Unit (BHU). In addition, distant hamlets are sometime served by an Outreach Clinic. Public health facilities are given priority electrification.

Location: Bhutan