Yangyel Lhaden 

To scale up solar energy use in the country, National Assembly members agreed to become a member of the International Solar Alliance in first seating of the sixth session of the third Parliament yesterday.

The House supported all 14 articles of the framework agreement on the establishment of ISA and will ratify the framework agreement today.

The agreement was introduced in the House by Tengye Lyonpo ( Minister of Economic Affairs) Loknath Sharma.

Lyonpo said that to achieve energy security focusing on alternative renewable energy such as solar was important as the country imported energy during the lean season.    

“We are not dropping hydropower but embracing solar energy to complement hydropower to augment energy.”

Lyonpo said that as hydropower was dependent on the run-off-water scheme Bhutan imported energy during the lean season. By trapping solar energy, Bhutan could export surplus energy and generate revenue. “The ministry has conducted final national interest analysis and stakeholder consultation on the membership of Bhutan to ISA.”

Chidrel Lyonpo (Foreign Minister) Dr Tandi Dorji said that registering in ISA would be beneficial for the country to receive international support such as technical and monetary to establish solar plants. “It will also help in developing diplomatic relations.”

International Solar Alliance is initiated by India and currently, has an alliance of 124 countries with the purpose to bring together group of nations to endorse clean energy, sustainable environment, public transport, and climate.

The House also deliberated concerns of social, cultural, environmental, advantages and disadvantages of solar energy,

Athang-Thedtsho Member of Parliament (MP)  Kinley Wangchuk said that Wangdue was chosen as a pilot project for both solar and wind energy. He said that the dzongkhag would continue to support the government’s initiatives but it was important to benefit the locals through better roads.

Lamgong-Wangchang MP Ugyen Tshering shared concerns of waste from solar energy and suggested if surplus solar energy could be stored and used in lean seasons.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the ministry was in the process of formulating regional grid connectivity so that Bhutan could trade electricity in the region.

He said that waste from solar energy especially batteries is a concern in all countries but with advances in technology it could be reduced.

Lyonpo shared that with funding from Asian Development Bank, the ministry will construct a solar plant in Rukubji village in Wangdue next year and start rooftop solar panels for households.

Edited by Tshering Palden