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Yangyel Lhaden

The plan to install a 30 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Shingkhar, Bumthang, that was on hold after the community refused to issue clearance, has been dropped and cancelled.

Tengye Lyonpo (Economic Affairs Minister) Loknath Sharma said that despite many requests and consultations, the people of Shingkhar were not willing to provide the land for the solar power plant.

The solar power plant with 80,000 panels was going to occupy 114 acres out of the 800 acres available. It was expected to generate 46.19 million (M) units of energy annually with an annual revenue generation of Nu 233.725M. However, 33 out of 39 households in Shingkhar submitted a petition to the Prime Minister to cancel the project.

Most people in Shingkhar depend on agriculture and livestock. The proposed solar power plant falls in their pastureland used as a grazing area for free-roaming cattle.






In an earlier interview with Kuensel, villagers of Shingkhar said the solar plant was taking their grazing land away and suggested that the ministry explore other sites in the country.

Lyonpo said, “We must explore and prioritise solar power plant projects to complement hydropower to achieve energy security as the country imports energy during the lean season.”

Lyonpo said that seven solar projects sites were tentatively assessed. “Some sites have the capacity to generate more than two or three times the energy than the proposed project in Shingkhar. We will assess more sites to tap about 200MW solar energy in the next two years.”

The identified sites are Doongmanma in Trashigang (32.25 MW), Chumey (41.96 MW) and Tang (91.45 MW) in Bumthang, Khottokha (3.41 MW) and Gogona (64.71 MW) in Wangduephodrang, Tenchekha in Thimphu (59 MW), and Apa Amai Pang in Dagana (15.69 MW).





The seven sites have potential to generate combined estimated solar energy amounting to 308MW.

According to the State of the Nation report, the desk assessment of the sites has been submitted to Asian Development Bank to carry out site feasibility studies and funding.

Lyonpo said that the first mega solar power plant in Seyphu, Wangdue (17MW) was finalised for implementation.




Once complete, the plant is expected to generate 26.15M units of electricity, earning an annual revenue of Nu 132.29M at the domestic tariff rate of Nu 5.06 per unit and has the capacity to reduce 24,495.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions if the non-fossil-fuel-based energy is exported.

The first utility-scale of 180-kilowatt grid-tied solar power plant at Rubesa was commissioned in September 2021.

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