Hydropower Export Helps Bhutan Provide for Future Generations

Video | 1 August 2014

This is the first installment of a video series called "Great Expectations," which explores development challenges in different ADB member-countries through the hopes and aspirations of their children.

Great Expectations Bhutan looks at how exporting hydropower to neighboring India can help build the country's economy, laying a foundation of prosperity for the next generation.


Title: Hydropower Export Helps Bhutan Provide for Future Generations

Description: Great Expectations - Bhutan looks at how exporting hydropower to neighboring India can help build the country's economy, laying a foundation of prosperity for the next generation.

VO: In the mountainous, land-locked South Asian country of Bhutan, Buddhism is strongly entrenched not just as a religion but also as a way of life.

In Buddhism, being born and re-born as human is considered a privilege, as there’s a strong belief that many enter the world in other forms in the constant cycle of life and rebirth. Children therefore, are seen as a blessing and are revered as special and important in Bhutanese society. And like in other countries, they are seen as those who will one day inherit the earth.

Great Expectations

SOT: Tashi Lhendup Namgay
I would like to become a scientist because I would like to make my mother and father proud of me.

SOT: Kinley Selden
I want to be a dancer because I want to teach the children how to dance.

SOT: Chuki Wangmo
When I grow up, I want to become a teacher because I want all the people and students to learn more about what is coming up.

SOT: Pema Drukzel
I want to be a doctor because I want to help the old, the sick and the needy people.

SOT: Yangjuk Pema Lhazin
I want to be a fashion designer because I want to promote the culture of Bhutan through fashion.

VO: While each of them aspires to pursue their dreams, they will also inherit the nation’s challenges. And this will depend greatly on Bhutan’s development path over coming decades. Bhutan’s economy is one of the world’s smallest and least developed. Its rugged, mountainous terrain is not infrastructure friendly and is an obstacle to economic development.  

SOT: Sonam Tschering
Secretary of Economic Affairs
Royal Government of Bhutan
We are a landlocked country. Our transportation costs are very high and logistics costs are also very high, we cannot be competitive.

VO: Today, Bhutan is trying to expand its economy by tapping a resource the country is rich in: hydropower. With few other options, the country needs to take advantage of hydropower export opportunities, particularly to neighboring India, to develop its economy.

If the youth of the country are to prosper, the government needs to provide electricity to all rural households.

The Asian Development Bank is helping solve both problems through the innovative Green Power Development Project, which is supporting the 126-megawatt Dagachu hydropower plant in the south of the country, and at the same time, working to achieve 100% rural electrification by the first half of 2014.

SOT: Sonam Tschering
When you look at the importance of rural electrification, now, people living in the remote rural areas, for them knowing that the country is making a lot of money really has no meaning if they do not have electricity.

VO: The Dagachu facility, which is nearly completed, will export clean energy to a private distributor in India and is expected to replace power generated by Indian coal fired power plants.

Export royalties as well as the sale of carbon credits will fund the rural electrification program and other government expenditures, including social services.

SOT: Sonam Tschering
You talk about schools; you talk about hospitals, these are all supported through the revenues generated mainly through the hydropower sector.

VO: This village in Punakha district in western Bhutan is one of many still without electricity.

SOT: Thinley Wangmo
Resident, Balana Village, Punakha District
At night I have to use torch, when my child gets up at night to drink milk, very difficult at night. I have to use torch and play with her. It’s very difficult. Sometimes the torch falls from my hand and hits my baby.

VO: Thinley Wangmo’s problems will soon be a thing of the past as the government aims to provide electricity for all rural areas including Balana village soon.

SOT: Sonam Tschering
It is equally important for the government to ensure that we are able to provide this clean source of energy to our rural areas so that it will change their life.

VO: Bhutan’s successful cooperation with ADB in harnessing some of hydropower resources and the plan to provide electricity for all has paved the way for the joint development of another hydropower facility, a 118 megawatt generation plant in Nikachu, west of the country.

SOT: Sonam Tschering
We would like to see the engagement with ADB in the hydropower sector move from different size but each time the size is going higher and higher.

VO: As the country looks forward to the future, its hopes for a better tomorrow are shared by those who will benefit the most from the groundwork that is being built today.

SOT: Chuki Wangmo
My dreams for my country, Bhutan is to let there be more people with more knowledge.

SOT: Yangjuk Pema Lhazin
I would like my community to become a peaceful and quiet place.

SOT: Tashi Lhendup Namgay
I hope Bhutan will become even more progressive and I will invent things to help Bhutan.

SOT: Pema Drukzel
One day my country will develop by making people rich, wealthy, healthy and by making new things that others haven’t made.

SOT: Kinley Selden
My dream for my community and family is happiness.