December 30, 2022

A Joint Press Release
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan; Bhutan For Life; Bhutan Foundation; Bhutan Ecological Society; GEF-SGP UNDP.

Mongar, December 30, 2022: The first-ever 80 kW Decentralized Distributed Generation of Solar PV system was virtually launched today by His Excellency Lyonpo Loknath Sharma in the presence of community members and partners. 

The construction of the first Decentralized Solar PV system of 80 KiloWatt (kW) in the rural community of Aja will now benefit 34 households who have lived without electricity to date, including thousands of pilgrims who visit annually. 

A private firm constructed the 80 kW system with funding support from Bhutan For Life, Bhutan Foundation, and GEF-Small Grants Programme UNDP at Dawathang, Pema Yangdzong and Dungkar Choling. The Department of Energy, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Bhutan Ecological Society (BES) implemented the project. The construction began on October 20, 2021 and was completed on November 30, 2022. The total cost of the project was around Nu. 31.5 million.

Aja Ney is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites under Shermuhung gewog in Mongar Dzongkhag. Aja Ney falls within the core zone of the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS). The nearest road to Aja terminates at a place called Yarab, which is 20 km from the Shermuhung gewog center, with an additional 6 hours on foot to reach the community.

Since the community is in the core zone of the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS), one of the protected areas (PAs), the community largely depended on fuelwood for heating and cooking.

 “I have lived my entire life here. Even doing daily chores like cooking at home is very hard. To see the light in my home during my lifetime, I am very happy” Angay Tshering Yangzom (69).

This Solar PV system is the first of its kind and provides an opportunity for replication in other parts of the country. 

“I have learned so much from this project and now, if we replicate this elsewhere, the department can really put an optimized version of this kind of project,” said Galey Dorji, Project Manager, Department of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan. “It will not only reduce our reliance on fuelwoods and traditional lamps, but it will also create employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth through ecotourism in the community,” he added.