… Provides an opportunity for project replication in other parts of the country

YK Poudel

With the installation of an 80-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system (PV) that converts sunlight into electricity, the monastery, guesthouses and villages at Aja Ney in Mongar are now electrified.

The solar PV system will benefit over 34 households.

Aja Ney in Shermuhoong gewog, Mongar is a sacred pilgrimage site in Bhutan that sees over a thousand visitors every year. Visitors have to walk about six hours from the nearest road point to reach the sacred site.

The villagers and visitors had been using firewood and lamps for cooking and lighting purpose in the absence of an electricity supply.

Tshering Yangzom, 69, said that with the electric facility, pilgrims visiting Aja Ney and the villagers would now have a better experience. “I have lived my entire life here. Even doing daily chores like cooking at home is very hard. To see the light in my home during my lifetime, I am delighted,” she said.

According to the executive director of Bhutan for Life Fund Secretariat, Pema Wangda, the community that is largely dependent on fuel wood for heating and cooking will have an eco-friendly experience of using electricity through the project.

The project completed in November 2022

“This solar PV plant is used for lighting, cooking, heating and also charging electronic gadgets. Therefore, the communities of Aja Ney and the pilgrims who visit Aja Ney will benefit through this solar PV plant,” he said.

Solar panels were installed in Dawathang (50 kW), Pema Yangdzong (25 kW) and Dungkar Choling (5 kW), which will supply electricity to these villages.

The Department of Renewable Energy and the Bhutan Ecological Society implemented the project.

One of the aims of this project is to create employment opportunities through ecotourism in the community in addition to the reduction in usage of firewood and traditional lamps.

The construction of the solar PV system, which started in 2021, was completed in November last year.

Bhutan For Life, Bhutan Foundation, and Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme under UNDP funded the project worth over Nu 31.5 million.

The solar PV was launched virtually by Tengye Lyonpo Loknath Sharma in the presence of community members and partners on December 30.