Powering Homes, Powering Growth in Bhutan

Video | 28 April 2014

An innovative ADB hydropower project in Bhutan will meet two of the country's pressing development needs: extending electricity for all rural households and raising revenue from the export of hydropower to India.

Transcript

Title: Powering Homes, Powering Growth in Bhutan

Description: An innovative ADB hydropower project in Bhutan will meet two of the country's pressing development needs: extending electricity for all rural households and raising revenue from the export of hydropower to India.

VO: The village of Balana in the western district of Punakha in Bhutan lies far beyond the reach of modernity. There are no proper roads leading to this remote, mountainous area. The village is one of many in Bhutan 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.

VO: Thinley Wangmo’s problems will soon be a thing of the past as the Bhutanese government aims to provide electricity for all rural areas including Balana by the second half of 2014.

SOT: Sonam Tschering
Secretary of Economic Affairs
Royal Government of Bhutan
We used to have a lot of respiratory problems in rural areas because their kitchen is entirely dependent on fuel wood. Many of them suffer from pulmonary disease. And so providing rural electrification not only gave them a clean source of light, it also improved their health.

VO: Bhutan’s rural electrification program is part of a bigger Green Power Development Project, which includes another component, the hydropower export program.

With few other options, the country needs to take advantage of hydropower export opportunities, particularly to energy-hungry neighboring India, to develop its economy.

The Asian Development Bank is working with the Bhutanese government to develop a 126-megawatt hydropower plant in Dagachu, in the south of the country. The Dagachu facility, which is nearly completed, will export clean energy to a private distributor in India and will replace power generated from fossil fuels, making the project eligible for carbon credits.

Export royalties as well as the sale of carbon credits will fund the rural electrification program and will provide government revenue for social services and education.

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: As it tries to expand its economy, the Himalayan kingdom is hoping to work with ADB further to pursue other hydropower opportunities.