Yangyel Lhaden 

Come June, 25 quick charging stations will be installed in six dzongkhags for electric vehicles (EV), according to a project official.  

Fifteen fast chargers of 120 kilowatt (kW) and 10 semi-fast chargers of 22kW will be distributed in Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Haa, and Chukha. The 10 semi fast chargers will be installed based on priority. 

The installation of the charging station is part of  Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban transport System project which started in 2019 and aims to replace 300 fossil fuel-driven taxis.

Project Manager Phub Gyeltshen said each of the charging stations could charge two vehicles simultaneously. 

The fast charger can charge a car between 30 minutes and an hour. The semi-fast charger takes between two and three hours. The new charging station is of a customised design called a dual charging station which can charge any electric vehicle. The existing five charging stations can only charge Japanese brand electric cars. 

There are two types of charging stations for export – combined charging system (CCS) and CHAdeMO. In CCS, the association of different brands of electric car manufacturers approve the use of one standard- CCS. 

Phub Gyeltshen said the public preferred different brands of electric cars and to suit their needs the charging station in the country is a dual charging system which was a fusion of CHAdeMO and CCS. 

He said the charging stations could not be installed as planned due to change in charging station design, delayed procurement due to the pandemic, and lack of technical expertise locally. 

He said challenges were many. “We needed to extensively study the feasibility and appropriate design of the charging station which best suited our country.”

An electric car has two charging cables: alternating current (AC) 1 and AC 2. Phub Gyeltshen said people thought with a lack of charging station buying electric cars was not feasible. “AC level 1 charger is compatible to use in home sockets.”

In 2019, mandatory requirement for AC socket in new buildings was endorsed for buildings within Thimphu thromde.

In Thimphu, two new charging stations would be installed in Changlingmithang, one each in the vicinity of Lungtenzampa and Jigme Namgyal Lower Secondary School, and Centenary farmers’ market.

In Paro, one charging station is being installed at the Paro International Airport and another at the old taxi parking. One charging station each would be set up in Haa town, Bajo, Khuruthang, and Gedu. 

There is also a charging station being installed in Tamchog lhakhang near Tourism Council of Bhutan’s toilet, and Wangkha on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway. 

Phub Gyeltshen said the installation of two charging stations in multi-level car parking and one in a parking lot near the new lower market would be delayed due to the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Nu 69 million has been approved in next fiscal year to install charging station in remaining dzongkhags, thromdes, and along the highway.