… taking the total tally to 44 in the country

Yangyel Lhaden 

Japan’s Minister for Environment Akihiro Nishimura launched the first electric vehicle charging station at Dangrina, Thimphu installed through a project supported by the Japan government yesterday. 

The installation of charging stations is part of the project titled “Leveraging nationally determined contributions to achieve net-zero emission and climate-resilient development in response to the climate emergency”.

Through the project, 19 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles were procured and is installing 16 charging stations—six in Thimphu, one at Wamrong and Tingtibi and the remaining in government offices, Phuentsholing, and Paro.

The project is a partnership between the Government of Japan and UNDP’s next phase of the Climate Promise: From Pledge to Impact. It aims to help countries turn their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) carbon reduction targets into concrete results.

The 19 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles are distributed to 11 government agencies and three to Royal Bhutan Police. The 19 electric vehicles combined have a potential to offset 5,585kgs of carbon dioxide yearly. This is 83,775 kgs over a period of 15 years, which is the estimated life of the EVs.

Minister Akihiro Nishimura said that electric vehicles not only aided in decarbonising transportation but also functioned as a standalone distributed energy system, providing power during disasters. Their reusable batteries support decarbonisation, foster a circular economy, and enhance resilience in communities.

Electric Vehicle Project Management Unit Project Manager Tshering Dhendup said that 19 government fossil fuel vehicles which were old and had individual maintenance costs of about Nu 200,000 annually were replaced.

The project has also helped build the capacity of Bhutanese on electric vehicles.

Eleven transport officers were trained on the global best practices in electric vehicle ecosystem, 50 Bhutan Power Corporation engineers and technicians were trained on operation and maintenance of electric vehicle chargers, and a refresher course was given to 141 taxi drivers, through the project.

Resident Representative Mohammad Yonnus of UNDP said that Japan and UNDP partnership is aimed at strengthening the electric vehicle ecosystem in Bhutan. “Thank you for this project and earlier initiatives as now Bhutan has electric vehicles, charging stations, and trained technicians.”

“This is an ecosystem that will support Bhutan’s strategic goal of achieving zero-emission mobility by 2050,” Mohammad Yonnus said.

From about 128 electric vehicles in 2021, today there are 460 in the country. With the 16 charging stations, there are now 44 across the country.

The project also engaged 20 skilled desuups in the development of charging sites in partnership with Desuung Skilling Programme.

The launch was also attended by MoIT Minister Dorji Tshering, Ambassador Hiroshi Suzuki with Embassy of Japan in India, Resident Representative Mohammad Younus of UNDP, and government officials, among others.