Yangyel Lhaden 

To diversify renewable energy resources, Department of Renewable Energy (DRE) launched an 11.7 kilowatt peak (kWp) in an hour grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) car park and an indirect 500-litre thermosiphon solar water heating system in the economic affairs ministry (MoEA) compound yesterday.

This is the first phase of renewable energy demonstration in MoEA compound.

DRE Director Phuntsho Namgyal said that the initiative was a small step in terms of scale but a giant step in taking solar PV  technology forward in the country. “The initiative is also to enhance the capacity of the department with hands-on experience, and data collection will enable informed policy and decision making.”

The solar PV is installed on the top of a car park and is supplying energy to a building in the office.  It has been a week since the operation of solar PV system. The use of power is monitored through a smart television or a smartphone.

The system generated 168.5 kilowatt-hours in a week. This, according to officials is equivalent to reducing 67.4kg of carbon dioxide or saving nine trees and 67.4kg of coal. The emission was calculated by the system with respect to non-renewable energy required to generate 168.5-kilowatt-hour energy.

Phuntsho Namgyal said that within the past decade the cost of solar power systems has dropped by up to 80 percent. 

“If proper policy support is provided solar energy alone can meet up to 85 percent of energy demand  in the country and meet 25 percent of global energy demand according to IRNA report.”

The grid-tied solar photovoltaic system worth Nu 1.2M was funded by Mr and Mrs Phelps from the USA.  Phuntsho Namgyal said that Mrs Phelp’s only intention was to support climate-resilient through green activities to fight the threats induced by global climate change.

The grid-tied photovoltaic system means the electricity is fed in a transmission line so that solar and hydropower energy can complement each other when solar energy is in short supply.

Tengye Lyonpo (MoEA minister) Loknath Sharma said that the data collected from the system in the building would give a true picture of the impact of solar energy and show whether solar energy was more economical than hydropower.

Lyonpo said we have seen delays in constructing mega hydropower projects, complications, and damages to marine life. “ It is important to diversify energy to renewable resources and in the long run solar energy will help us attain energy security especially during lean season.”

Phuntsho Namgyal said that it took about 18 months to install a solar PV plant in a small area. “Ideally, we aim to see every rooftop with solar panel feeding into the grid and we are aware we are a long way from achieving it but progress is being made.”

He said that the department has planned activities to install two types of solar PV namely grid and decentralised system. “ DRE installed decentralized solar PV in Aja Ney in Mongar where installing transmission line for hydropower is not feasible.”

An indirect thermosiphon solar water heating system is installed at a cost of Nu 450,000. An indirect thermosiphon solar water heating system is a technology that uses solar energy to heat the water. A water tank supplies water through pipes inside the solar panel, the water is heated and transferred to a geyser for storage. The water can stay hot for up to 12 hours.

The solar water output system is a part of the project Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Technologies in the Building Sector funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

In the first phase, Department is going to install 45 solar water heating systems in public institutions (25), residential (10), and commercials (10).

Phuntsho Namgyal said solar water heating systems to public institutions would be provided free of cost and for residential and commercials projects would chip in 40 percent.

The solar water heating system is part of Alternative Renewable Energy Policy- 2013 to achieve the target of 3MW equivalent energy generation from solar water heating systems by 2025.

Edited by Tshering Palden