Bhutan can earn Nu 621 million (M) from saving electricity consumption in industry, buildings, and appliances sectors annually, according to the Department of Renewable Energy (DRE).

The department has drafted the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Policy, which is in its final draft with the Gross National Happiness Commission.

DRE’s director Mewang Gyeltshen said: “The policy is expected to be approved soon.”

The draft policy says that the annual saving potential in electricity consumption, averaged over the 15 years projected period in the industry, buildings and appliances sectors, is about 300 million kWh, which at the present average export tariff of electricity of Nu 2.07 per kWh amounts to an additional government revenue of about Nu 621 M)per annum.

“Moreover, it also has potential to reduce cross-border green house gas emission,” it says.

Mewang Gyeltshen said that the department identified four sectors: industry, building, appliances, and transport, which are the highest energy consumers in the country.

In 2014, buildings and appliances consumed 270,356 total oil equivalent (TOE). The industry sector consumed 241,972 TOE, and transport sector 121,218 TOE.

Mewang Gyeltshen said that the potential of energy efficiency and conservation (EEandC) measures is based on the findings of technical studies and energy audit conducted across the economy in the energy consuming sectors.

“These studies have revealed realisable and implementable interventions that may be pursued in a systematic way to achieve not only the EE&C goals, but also further economic development of the country,” he said.

In the transport sector, there is a significant increase in vehicular traffic due to economic development. The import of fossil fuel in this sector increased from Nu 1.1 billion (B) in 2002 to Nu 8.4B in 2014. It is projected to rise further.

The policy says that sustainable transportation that focuses on efficient fuel usage and promotion of public modes of travel constitutes a huge potential for the country.

“Energy efficient transportation systems, like fuel-efficient vehicles, electric or hybrid vehicles and non-motorised transportation mechanisms, could lead to saving fuel consumption in the transport sector,” Mewang Gyeltshen said.

This is expected to reduce the petroleum import and traffic congestion and mitigate vehicular pollution.

According to the department’s estimate, the use of clean and fuel-efficient transportation could reduce import bill by Nu 467M annually.

“Adherence to climate change commitments will also help the country to access international, multilateral or bilateral funds and technical assistance from development partners in the future,” he said.

Energy savings in any form would also enhance disposable income for households, which will in turn positively affect gender equity as most households are operated by women.

Mewang Gyeltshen said that investment in measures of efficiency and conservation and increased disposable income would contribute to employment creation in energy and other sectors, contributing to the country’s green growth strategy.

Energy efficient production processes and technologies will improve productivity, profitability, and competitiveness of industries by lowering operating costs, enhancing worker skills, and disseminating knowledge and best practices.

“Energy efficiency measures in industries will help in enhancing national economy, transferring technologies from abroad and establishing value chains for energy-efficient goods and services,” Mewang Gyeltshen said.

The Economic Development Policy (EDP) 2016 emphasises Bhutan’s green and self-reliant economy by 2020 through the promotion of optimised usage of ecological and natural resource richness of the country and pursuit of energy efficient productive activity.

In 2014, Bhutan exported around 5,179 million kWh surplus electricity, contribution of around Nu 10,698 million at Nu 2.07 per kWh of average electricity tariff.

In the same year, the country imported Nu 8,432.66 million worth of petroleum products. According to the policy, EE&C measures can directly benefit the economy by freeing up energy resources, generating additional revenue through export of saved electricity and reduced imports of petroleum products.

This can also relieve government’s fiscal burden on energy subsidies and reallocate resources for other developmental activities, the draft policy states.

“We can’t afford to waste energy,” Mewang Gyeltshen said.

The DRE as the nodal agency will work with GNHC, BCCI, Bhutan Standards Bureau, thromdes and Bhutan Electricity Authority, among others.

DRE will distribute subsidised LED bulbs to encourage people to conserve electricity and phase out incandescent bulbs that consume more power with less efficiency.

The department distributed more than 24,000 LED bulbs so far.

“We’ll distribute about 600,000 more,” Mewang Gyeltshen said.

Tshering Palden