Towards clean energy and going electric

The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shared his concerns of Bhutan gearing towards electric vehicles as a sustainable means of transport during the 12th Meet-the-Press held yesterday. He said the country should come together to promote the electric vehicles the sake of environment and the nation’s economy as well.

“We have the possibility of replacing the large amount of fossil fuel with using our own clean energy, clean hydropower that is generated sustainably,” Lyonchhen said. “Hydro power is one of the world’s cheapest and fuel is the one of the most expensive in the world.”

Lyonchhen added that Bhutan will reduce the import of fossil fuel by Nu 1 bn or half billion in next three or four years. This is expected to save money and improve the present situation of balance of trade and balance of payment. Currently, Bhutan imports Nu 7.5 bn worth of fuel energy every year.

Lyonchhen also reiterated that hydropower is a natural resource that belongs to the people of Bhutan and the hydropower should be used by the people rather than selling it at a cheaper price and buying the very expensive fossil fuel.

“We have the opportunity to use cheap electricity to replace fossil fuels, lowering the dependency on fuel,” Lyonchhen said. This, he said, will lead to having a cleaner environment, protecting our forests and our brand image, and to becoming leaders in sustainable transport.

The Prime Minister also expressed that one could save money as electric vehicles uses only electricity to charge. “The car works, the fuel works, the technology works. We are sitting on the gold mine,” Lyonchhen added.

He also said those that were in favour of electric cars are backing out saying the battery would not do well, and other reasons due to the politicization of the electric car. The PM said this is an opportunity for Bhutan to promote electric cars as they are reliable and cheaper to use.

The PM said he has travelled 8000 km on his electric vehicle for which but he used only 1500 units of electricity coming to Nu 3000. For the same distance, the estimated cost of fossil fuel is about Nu 0.12 mn.

There are plans to introduce Mitsubishi electric cars on the roads. Bhutan, through the Asian Development Bank grant, will get more electric vehicles and electric motorbikes to help promote sustainable transport.

A significant portion of the grant will also be used to set up the charging stations. Lyonchhen said that sufficient numbers of charging stations would be set up in urban areas, especially in Thimphu. There are plans to set up two charging stations in every dzongkhag. Two charging stations will be set up in every 50 km interval. Bhutan has asked Japan and the European Union for the support too.

During the press meet, discussions were also raised on whether the electric car dealers in Bhutan would impact the market of fuel cars and dealers dealing with both electric and fuel cars. On this, Lyonchhen said that as long as the dealers are licensed and taxes are paid, they are allowed under the Constitution to participate in legal trade and if there is any conflict between them, they need to resolve it among themselves. As well those running business on the cars both electric and fuel, Lyonchhen said one has the right to sell any brand of vehicles.

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