Norwegian hydropower expertise in the Himalayas

Powel AS to deliver software for hydropower planning to Dagachhu Hydro Power Corporation Ltd (DHPC) in the small kingdom of Bhutan, east in the Himalayas.

Bhutan’s first hydropower plant was put into operation in 1986, and since then this industry has increasingly become more important for the country. Bhutan is energy self-sufficient and the export of electricity accounts for a fifth of their GNP. Their largest customer is neighbouring India, which imports close to 75% of all electricity generated in Bhutan.

Powel is delivering the Powel Inflow solution to Dagachhu, one of the newest power stations in the country. The software is a prognosis tool that helps power producers plan and optimise their production. Powel Inflow is a well-known and established solution used extensively in Norway particularly, but also in other countries such as Chile and Switzerland.

“Powel and DHPC have agreed on a six month pilot project where DHPC will test Powel Inflow. We are modelling a catchment area of 677km², where the highest mountains are nearly 5000 metres tall,” explains Bjørnar Fjelldal, Business Consultant in Powel Smart Energy. “The company has provided us with 20 years’ worth of historical data, which we have fed into the system. Throughout this project, they will perform readings of temperature and precipitation every day. This information is then fed into the system which calculates the estimated precipitation for the following day.”

Unlike Norway and many other countries, Bhutan does not build dams in most of their rivers. The downside to this is that it makes it harder to plan the production. For DHPC it is important to know how much they can produce in order to know how much they can sell.

“This pilot project is very exciting for us as it will be the first time we use sophisticated software to predict our inflow. Unlike other power plants in Bhutan, Dagachhu is subjected to Deviation Settlement Mechanism in the Indian power market and as such, it is expected to maximise revenue by improving forecasting,” says Mr. Karma Phuntsho, Officiating CEO & Head, O&M Division, Dagachhu Hydro Power Corporation. “As the majority of the hydropower production here in Bhutan is based on the run of the river, with periods of highly uncertain precipitation due to occurrences such as the monsoons, having an accurate prognosis of the amount of water to expect is key, especially considering our limited amount of storage capacity”.

“Financially, this is not a large contract for Powel, but if the pilot is successful, we see great opportunities for expansion here. We also think it is very exciting to play a role in this project where Norwegian hydropower knowledge and expertise can contribute to financial gains for a country like Bhutan. Additionally, we are also contributing indirectly to an increase in the use of renewable energy in India, a country that today relies heavily on polluting coal power,” says Fjelldal.


About Dagachhu Hydro Power Corporation Ltd
Dagachhu Hydro Power Corporation Limited was incorporated as a subsidiary company of Druk Green in May 2008. The hydropower project Dagachhu is situated in south-west Bhutan and it is the country’s first Public-Private Partnership venture in the hydropower sector.  The vast majority of the energy produced here is destined for India, through a long term Power Purchase Agreement with Tata Power Trading Company Limited, India. Estimated production is around 360GWh annually.
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