International Solar Alliance to help boost Bhutan’s Solar Initiatives – Thimphu, Bhutan| 15 April 2024

With Bhutan ratifying the Framework Agreement and becoming a full member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2022, the momentum of collaboration between the ISA and the Royal Government of Bhutan has picked up pace through implementation of various initiatives supported by the ISA. ISA is a global alliance consisting of 119 member countries as of today and whose objective is to scale up deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance energy access, ensure energy security and facilitate in energy transitions so as to fulfil the goals of Paris Agreement.

In order to take the partnership forward, a high-level delegation from ISA, New Delhi led by its Director-General, Dr. Ajay Mathur, is currently in Bhutan to sign the Country Partnership Agreement (CPA) with the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR), Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) which serves as the National Focal Point for the ISA.

Through this CPA, ISA will collaborate with the Department of Energy (DoE)- focal department under the MoENR to further implement the programs/projects to enhance energy access and ensure energy security through solar energy interventions and diversification of energy portfolio in the country based in the Country Partnership Strategy to be agreed upon mutual consultations. The CPA was signed by Mr. Karma Tshering, Secretary, MoENR and Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, ISA on 15th April 2024 in the presence of Minister for Energy and Natural Resources & other senior officials from RGoB and ISA.

Underlining the significance of the CPA signing, Dr Ajay Mathur, DG-ISA, stated, “I am delighted to see the progress our partnership has made. This signing will further bolster our actions and facilitate the attainment of our goals and ISA remains fully committed to support Bhutan under this initiative“. ISA is also working with Bhutan on developing a National Solar Energy Roadmap and provides regulatory support for developing solar tariffs, licensing and de-licensing regulations, standards, and guidelines to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) of Bhutan.

In addition, an MoU for the establishment of a Solar Technology Application Resources Centre (STAR-C) has been signed during the ongoing visit among the MoENR, RUB and the ISA. ISA is working with the DoE, MoENR to establish the STAR-C at the College of Science & Technology (CST) under Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), with funding support of about US$ 200,000-300,000 for a 2-year period. This centre aims to strengthen local capacity that promotes the development and dissemination of solar energy technologies and provides technical assistance to accelerate the deployment of solar energy solutions in the country and the region through further collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

In addition to the strategic meetings, the visit will also mark the inauguration of a 5MT modular solar-powered cold storage facility at the National Post Harvest Centre in Paro besides the placement of a similar unit in Brumbi, Zhemgang. This initiative, funded by the ISA, underscores the Alliance’s commitment to promoting sustainable agricultural practices and reducing food wastage.

Bhutan has been actively engaged with the ISA, alongside other ISA partner/donor organisations, to foster collaboration under various ISA programmes. Bhutan’s active engagement with various ISA programmes underscores its commitment to harnessing solar energy for enhancing sustainable development. Bhutan has accordingly submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to join seven of the nine ISA’s programmes.

These engagements and developments signify a shared vision between Bhutan and the ISA to embrace renewable energy solutions for a sustainable future. As the partnership strengthens, both parties are poised to achieve significant milestones in advancing solar energy adoption and combating climate change.

Furthermore, ISA’s focus also includes conducting assessments, demonstrating innovative technologies like solar cold storage, and devising strategies for effectively scaling solar energy initiatives in Bhutan.