Dechen Dolkar

Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) is exploring possibilities of converting electricity to hydrogen fuel for the transport sector. 

Last year, DGPC had undertaken an exploratory study for the conversion of electricity to hydrogen fuel or other energy storage systems through Forschungsgesellschaft für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen und Thermodynamik (FVT), affiliated with the University of Graz, Austria and other partners as the expert consultants for the study.  

According to the DGPC, the global trend is investing in emerging technologies for direct conversion of renewable energy to hydrogen fuel for mobility in the transport sector and other energy storage systems.

“These offer huge opportunities for Bhutan on business diversification within as well as in the regional market for both energy production and consumption,” according to DGPC. 

The objective of the study was to explore the other end-uses of Bhutan’s hydropower for its consumption or business opportunities with a mid-and-long-term focus. 

DGPC’s managing director, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, said that due to the seasonal fluctuation in river flows and summer surpluses, energy storage by-products such as hydrogen fuel, green ammonia and other such technologies appear to be viable.

The study covered the present energy situation of Bhutan and the different technologies for the production of synthetic fuels for example hydrogen and methanol. 

He said that the one possible way to introduce hydrogen mobility in Bhutan would be public transport with hydrogen fueling stations in major cities to minimize investment costs and maximize usage rate. 

The study states that the replacement of taxis with hydrogen-powered vehicles would be possible. “Generally, fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen economy are characterised by high efficiency.”

The study mentions that biomass, a small amount of hydrogen and electricity are required for the production of synthetic diesel and gasoline. In comparison to hydrogen and methanol production, the electricity demand for the production of synthetic diesel and gasoline from biomass is low. 

Another possibility to produce synthetic diesel and gasoline would be the direct use of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Generally, synthetic diesel and gasoline can be directly used in the existing vehicle fleet of Bhutan and fossil fuels could be replaced. 

Industries such as cement emit significant CO2 emissions. 

It also states that to further improve the CO2 balance of Bhutan, the emitted CO2 from industries can be collected and used for the production of synthetic fuels. Methanol production is less demanding and is characterised by higher efficiency. 

At the moment, worldwide, several projects are dealing with the production, as a fuel and also as hydrogen or energy carrier. 

The study pointed out that Bhutan is well suited for the production of synthetic fuels like hydrogen, methanol, and synthetic gasoline, which would also allow an increase in the value chain. 

DGPC MD said that they would recommend to the government that hydrogen fuel is a great alternative for mobility.