Thukten Zangpo

With 90 percent of rural residents unable to afford lighting emitting diode (LED) bulbs, a startup is assembling it in Jungzhina in Thimphu to cater to rural residents. Rural residents were still found using halogen bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

Called Norgu Lights, the startup is selling LED bulbs of 9 watts (W) for Nu 88 to rural residents while the market price is Nu 200. The company also has a range of power from 9W to 22W bulbs.

Since its operation in February this year, the company has distributed the LED bulbs to eight dzongkhags across the country with a turnover of Nu 2.5 million (M).

Assembling LED bulbs takes less than a minute

It manufactured 70,000 LED lights like LED bulbs, surface light, conceal light, and tube lights with different units of power in watts.

The founder, Chencho, claimed the LED bulbs are equally durable, eco-friendly, and cost-saving. “Studies have shown electricity consumption from LED bulbs is 80 percent lower than the halogen bulb and 78 percent lower than compact fluorescent lamps.”

He claimed Norgu Lights studied the components of LED bulbs and saw the opportunity of assembling them in Bhutan. “We have customised each component by removing unwanted parts to save cost.”

Chencho said that if the country could achieve 100 percent coverage of LED lights for lighting in rural areas, the cost of lighting would be lowered, and also there would be huge energy savings in the country.

He claimed LED bulbs would not only save individual household energy consumption but also add to the national revenue. “In the next six months to a year, the company aims to substitute all imported LED lights.”

The Department of Renewable Energy also encourages Bhutanese to use LED lights.

According to the Bhutan Trade Statistics, the country imported 284,103 units of LED lights amounting to over Nu 25M and 646 units amounting to Nu 0.61M from India and other countries respectively in 2020.

In the last four years, Bhutan has imported an average of 57,986 numbers of LED bulbs, which shows an exponential increase over the years.

Meanwhile, Chencho said startups Norgu Lights face challenges of access to finance and resistance from Bhutanese to buy local products although it is cheaper.

The company also provides repair and maintenance services such as buying back unusable company bulbs at Nu 10 or 15, which will be repaired and resold at a discounted rate.

“This will go a long way in achieving our mission of eco-friendly and zero waste,” Chencho said.

The company currently employs eight youth in assembling work.