300 EVs to replace taxis
Bhutanese can feel the ride of 300 electric vehicle (EVs) taxis plying on the road of Thimphu city since Bhutan adopts Bhutan sustainble low emission urban transport systems project which would come into effect after few more stakeholders consultation.
The discussions were carried out among United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), vehicle dealers and representatives from taxi associations on 30 october in Thimphu.
The main component of project are to provide policy and regulatory support, shortlisting of EV suppliers, tendering for the installation of quick charging stations, project monitoring and evaluation.
The replacement of taxis with 300 EVs and 12 quick charging stations will also create awareness and capacity enhancement. The project technical working group carried out feasibility study to identify potential sites for the installation of quick charge stations in Thimphu Thromde, Paro, Punakha and wangdue. Of the 55 sites identified, 23 are recommended for immediate roll out.
During the meeting, Secretary, GNHC, Thinley Namgyel said that the project is first field project which is funded by global environment facility (GEF) in terms of addressing issue of climate change. He suggested the youths to take up this type of technology.
Sharing his concerns on the emssion caused by the vehicles, Resident coordinator of UN in Bhutan, Gerald Daly said that the there is a car for every seven person in Bhutan and the vehicle emissions in Thimphu will triple by 2040.
“These are the challenges and opportunities this project is addressing,” Gerald Daly said. “This project is an example of how mind and heart can be the foundation for transfomative development,” he added. “As much as possible we wish to look for ways to do holistic development.”
Moreover, he said that the project of 300 EVs and 12 charging stations combines the mind and heart approach because it helps to keep our environment clean while we are using electricity which is more self-reliance.
The project amounting to USD 2.65mn is funded by GEF, UNDP for three years in Thimphu.
For the EVs buyer, 20 percent (USD 5,500) per EV will be given as subsidy. However, 30 percent equity from the beneficiary and upto 50 percent loan from financial institutions, if required by beneficiaries. Royal Monetary Authority is also willing to raise the loan up to 60 percent upon the neccessity.
The project plans to develop criteria for interested taxi operators of Thimphu under different scenarios (less number of takers or high number of takers) and also finalize specification and bidding document for supply and instalation of quick charging stations.
There should also have clear guidelines on the decision on the selection of EV suppliers. As well as training of EV mechanics and technicians.
A study to identify sites for quick charging stations along Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway including Phuntsholing and Haa should be also looked. Once the quick charging stations are in placed, it also requires the operation and maintenance cost.
However, there are also issues related to the start of this project because it could anticipate the initial delay of the project because of the need to engage consultants for prepatory works before EV taxis are actually imported.
There are mixed response from taxi sector on the proposed subsidy and inadequate quick charging stations and people are still unclear on the standards and availability of quick charging stations capable of charging multiple brand of Evs, simultaneuosly.
Furthermore, the stakeholders meeting would discuss on the number of EV suppliers to be permitted to supply EVs or this project to extend beyond Thimphu if there are no takers in Thimphu, and import of EVs should be based on country or model.
The first stakeholders consultation meeting was held in september last year. Followed by second stakeholders consultation meeting in november. The project was approved on July 23 and signed (among UNDP, GNHC, MoIC) on September 28.
The replacement of taxis with 300 EVs and 12 quick charging stations will also create awareness and capacity enhancement.