Construction Starts on ADB Backed Solar Power Plant in Bhutan

Construction of a mega solar power plant in Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan, that will have a minimum total capacity of 17.38 megawatts peak and will generate 25 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, has begun.

The new plant will help diversify Bhutan’s current energy mix, which is strongly reliant on hydropower making the sector vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The large-scale solar plant is being constructed on an area of more than 65 acres at Yongtru village in Sephu Gewog.

The development will cost approximately US$11 million, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), funding it through grants and low-interest loans in conjunction with the Asian Development Fund, with the Government of Bhutan contributing US$900,000.

The project is supported by technical assistance (TA) amounting to US$20,000 from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund and US$450,000 from the Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund.

The TA will support learning opportunities on climate-resilient energy systems for higher secondary students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics stream, as well as the Department of Renewable Energy (DRE) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Women will constitute around 30%–40% of the beneficiaries of these learning programs.

“We are looking at how we can enhance the energy in the winter to meet our domestic demand. Due to economic development, demand has increased and we are importing from India. Importing from India not only comes at a high price and exorbitant tariff but also the long-term assurance is not there,” said Ugyen, project director of the Sephu Solar Project.

Once complete, the Druk Green Power Corporation will take over the operation and maintenance responsibilities of the plant.

By 2025 and 2030 respectively, the Bhutan government hopes to produce 500 and 1,000 megawatts of electricity from solar power facilities. The attempt to provide a dependable electricity supply and lessen dependency on imports includes the development of the new facility.