Yangyel Lhaden

The Department of Renewable Energy (DRE) launched a roadmap on May 30 to help the country achieve sustainable development goals ( SDG) 7  by 2030.

The roadmap, which is called “Energy Transition Pathway for the 2030 Agenda, SDG 7 Road Map for Bhutan” aims to achieve 90 percent universal access to clean cooking, 42.3 percent of share from renewable energy to contribute to total final energy consumption, and 70 percent of total vehicles to be electric vehicle.

SDG 7 has three targets of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services, increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

Bhutan has already achieved target one of SDG 7 to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services. The country has achieved 100 percent electricity access in 2018, ahead of initial goal of 2020.

DRE’s director, Phuntsho Namgyal, said the country was headed in the right direction to achieve SDG 7. “A roadmap will further guide us and the government to make policy changes to achieve SDG 7 by 2030 and for the country to achieve energy security.”

He said that although the country has achieved target one, most energy consumption is from non-renewables such as fossil fuels which hampers the achievement of target two to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

“The country spends more than Nu 1.3 billion (B) annually on fuel. The fossil fuel will exhaust one day and how long are we going to import fossil fuel?” he questioned.

Phuntsho Namgyal said that the roadmap is data-based, which recommends policy formulation, and targets set for business as usual, current policy scenario, and SDG scenario to achieve SDG 7.

DRE’s in-house data collected in 2017 and data from National Statistics Bureau, 2017 were used to create the roadmap with energy screening tool called NEXSTEP, which is focused towards achieving SDG 7.

The road map sets out five key policy recommendations to help the country meet the SDG 7 targets as well as realising substantial decarbonisation across the economy.

It calls on the government to consider access to clean cooking technologies as the number one priority.

In 2017, access to clean cooking access was around 77 percent, which increased to 79 percent in 2019 but 69.7 percent used liquefied petroleum gas followed by 7.1 percent used electric cooking stoves, and 1.4 percent used biogas digesters.

The remaining 23 percent of the population depends on a traditional way of cooking.

The road map calls on the government to formulate policy to improve indoor space heating technologies to reduce impact of indoor air pollution, setting a high bar for transport electrification, which is the key to energy demand reduction, a green building code, and encouraging commercial consumers to adopt energy-efficient cooking and lighting, and decarbonisation of industrial sector.

Phuntsho Namgyal said that in 2017, renewable energy contributed 30 percent of total energy consumption. “By switching to renewable energy in cooking and transportation from policy formulation will greatly increase the renewable share in total energy consumption.”

He said it was important to augment energy production from renewables and encourage more users to use renewable energy to achieve energy security and SDG 7 targets.

According to the director, although the country has the potential to harness 12,000MW of solar energy and 761MW wind energy, only about one percent of these energies could be harnessed currently. “We are aiming to harness 760 MW solar energy and 50 MW wind energy by 2030.”