The E3 conference organized by the QED group for the last three days in the capital saw a range of presentation on the plans for the generation of 10,000 MW energy by 2020. The energy sector in Bhutan has played a very important role in the country’s development in the last four decades. Starting with the commissioning of the 336 MW Chhukha Hydroelectric Power Plant in 1986, Bhutan entered a period of steady growth and prosperity for its citizens.
The country today has an installed capacity of 1,500 MW, reflecting a mere 5% of the estimated potential capacity of 30,000 MW. With plans to reach 11,000 MW by 2020, primarily with assistance from the government of India, the Bhutanese economy has begun to see an unprecedented inflow of capital and labour, and with it, some very real issues that have made us rethink our approach to growth, development planning, social inclusion, and environmental conservation.
The E3 Conference saw a platform for experts, policymakers, and business leaders to discuss the many aspects of developing the energy sector: social, cultural, economic, and environmental. Given the energy sector’s essential role in the Bhutanese economy, and with plans underway to generate more than 10,000 MW of energy by 2020, there is a need to understand its potential impact on Bhutan’s future. The outputs of the conference will contribute towards outlining a road map for Bhutan as it moves towards a new era of economic prosperity and prominence on the international stage.
In order to achieve 10, 000 MW by 2020 we have to developed 12 new projects in the next six years injecting about 11.2B which is equivalent to the country’s GDP every year till the target is not achieved . This means an increase in the money supply resulting in inflation which badly hits the lower section the society. Further this also means a decrease in the expenditure for the social sectors like health and education.
On the other hand with increase in the unemployment rate it becomes the responsibility of the state to provide employment which will be difficult to meet without investment in the power sector. In order to make the country self reliance huge investment has to be made in power sector for affordable, efficient and reliable power supply for the investors to come in.
As one of the panelists said the faster you want to do it, the lesser choice you have and fewer options, which puts us in weak negotiating price. If so the hydro projects come up too fast may be lose what we may gain on the long run. But for now it is for the policy makers to decide and what fits best for our economy.