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Official Name:
Kingdom of Bhutan

National Designated Entity

Type of organisation:
Specialized agency
Mr. Karma Tshering
+975 2 323 384

Energy profile

Bhutan (2012)

Energy profile
Energy profile
Extent of network

Population Access to Electricity (2009): 60%The figure above is expected to reach 84% by 2012 on the completion of two ongoing projects supported by ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). After the completion of the government’s own rural electrification program, which is running in parallel with those projects, around 8,500 households will still be left for further electrification through grid extension. After the completion of the Government’s own rural electrification program, which is running in parallel with those projects, around 8,500 households will still be left for further electrification through grid extension. Those households are scattered in remote areas throughout the country and most of them are in the central and eastern regions of Bhutan, which are far from the commercial and industrial centres in the western region. 

Renewable energy potential

HydropowerHydropower is the largest RE resource in Bhutan - the source for 99% of the country’s electricity generation today. It is widely abundant in terms of potential, estimated at 30,000 MW.  The total hydroelectric technically exploitable capacity, based on all practicable sites for head development and assuming average flows, is estimated at 23,500 MW .Accelerating hydropower development for export is of strategic significance for Bhutan’s economy. Given the government’s limited fiscal capacity for large infrastructure projects, the strategy is to leverage public and private investments to accelerate hydropower, and generate income for further socio-economic development. Biomass Energy Today, biomass is the predominant fuel, with the largest share of the overall energy supply.  Biomass includes wood, wood waste, pear, wood liquors, rail-road ties, pitch, wood sludge, municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, straw, tires, landfill gases, fish oils, and other waste materials. The entire rural population uses fuel wood as its main source of energy, while the urban and suburban population uses it for space heating during winter.Solar Energy Solar power has become an important part of rural electrification. Where the grid extension is assessed economically unfeasible, off-grid electrification has been pursued, mainly through stand-alone solar home systems. Most of them have been installed in rural households under donor-assisted grant projects, and up to 2010, 1,750 additional solar home systems were installed by the Government under the National Solar Electrification Program.  So far the total installed capacity in the country is a marginal 0.239 MW.  The use of solar energy for space heating and domestic hot water production has received little attention from the public and private sectors, mainly due to high cost of solar PV systems, and availability of cheap hydroelectricity, which has diverted the attention of the consumers.    The solar resources in the southern and northern parts of the country were found to be 4.0 kWh/m2 and 5.0kWh/m2 per day respectively, according to a study carried out by UNEP. Wind Energy / Geothermal Energy Wind power has remained unexplored so far although some efforts have been made in the past to tap it, without any success. No study has yet been conducted into the geothermal potential of the country. 

Energy framework

The government’s energy development strategy during 1994–2009 recognised the central role of the power sector in promoting (i) economic development and poverty alleviation by exploiting the abundant hydropower potential for increasing the government’s fiscal revenues from power exports; (ii) balanced regional growth through access to electricity for rural communities, and (iii) industrial investments based on the cheap and reliable supply of electricity. To achieve these objectives, the government has recognised the importance of improving the institutional capacity of power sector entities, to expand power generation capacity through investments in large export-oriented hydropower projects, and to expand the reach of the power transmission and distribution network to rural areas .The government followed a consistent policy framework during 1994–2009 to achieve these strategic objectives. The five year plans during this period prioritised the following aspects of this strategy:(i) establishing a transparent governance framework for the sector by separating the policy making, sector regulation, and utility operation functions;(ii) increasing the commercial orientation and operational efficiency of the utility function of the power sector, to expand the power transmission and distribution network, to facilitate the evacuation of power from export-oriented hydropower plants (HPPs), and to increase access to electricity for people in rural areas;(iii) improving the financial performance and cost recovery of the sector through tariff adjustments, whilst maintaining the government’s objective of providing affordable electricity to low-income households; and(iv) establishing a competent agency to consolidate government ownership in export-oriented hydropower projects ,and to act as a strategic partner in developing new export-oriented HPPs .10th Five Year Plan, 2008–2013 The 10th Five Year Plan, 2008–2013 targeted electrification of additional households to achieve an electrification rate of 80% by 2013. The electrification program under the 10th plan is estimated to cost US$82 million (average cost of US$3,280 per household) as the households remaining to be electrified are located in more remote areas. The rural electrification program under the 10th plan is expected to be financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (for US$31.2 million), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Green Power Development Project (US$25.3 million), Austrian bilateral financing (US$2.9 million), and the government of Bhutan (US$24.5 million). Development partner funding for the 25,000-households program is fully committed, and is being implemented. The government recently increased the target for electrification by 8,989 households under the 10th plan, to achieve the ambitious target of 100% electrification by 2013. This will require additional funding of US$40 million, which is expected to be financed under a proposed ADB loan, to be approved in 2010 or 2011, and additional financial commitments from the JICA.Sustainable Hydropower Development Policy of Bhutan The key objectives of this policy are to mobilize funds and attract investments for accelerated hydropower development, enhance the revenue contribution to the Royal Government, contribute towards development of clean energy to mitigate problems related to global warming and climate change. According to the section 1 of Bhutan Sustainable Hydropower Development Policy 2008, there is great potential for increasing electricity export and consequently earn substantial revenues. Huge energy demand in the region offers a big opportunity for Bhutan to develop its rich hydropower resources for export. 

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