Bhutan’s Parliament approves International Solar Alliance membership

National Assembly, the lower house of the Bhutanese parliament, has approved a proposal for the country to become a member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in a move that would enhance the country’s solar power generation capacity to supplement its establishedwhat is  hydropower resources

Nov 26, 2021
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International Solar Alliance

National Assembly, the lower house of the Bhutanese parliament, has approved a proposal for the country to become a member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in a move that would enhance the country’s solar power generation capacity to supplement its establishedwhat is  hydropower resources. 

The agreement, containing 14 articles of the framework of the ISA,  was introduced by Bhutanese Economic Minister Loknath Sharma. Addressing the assembly, he said Bhutan would have to focus on alternative renewable energy such as solar to secure its energy security. Currently, hydropower is its biggest energy source.

The ISA is an inter-governmental treaty-based international organization with a global mandate to catalyze global solar growth by helping to reduce the cost of financing and technology for solar.

The alliance is committed to establishing solar as a shared solution that simultaneously addresses climate, energy, and economic priorities across geographies, facilitating energy transition at a global level, energy security at national levels, while also ensuring energy access at the local level.

During the discussion on the proposal, opposition leader Dorji Wangdi said that Bhutan can produce at least 24,000 MW of about 30,000 MW of its total hydropower capacity. He alleged that by joining the alliance, the government was giving the impression that it was sidelining hydropower. 

Solar projects also required large areas for setting up plants. And in a mountainous country like Bhutan, which has over 85 percent of its land areas covered with forest, would require clearing forests.

However, in Bhutan, without clearance from local communities, forests can’t be cleared. Recently, the government had to shift the site of a solar power project as the local community in the area refused to give clearance. 

“We are not dropping hydropower but embracing solar energy to complement hydropower to augment energy,” Sharma defended his move. He further added that hydropower was dependent on the run-off-water scheme and Bhutan imported energy during the lean season. By trapping solar energy, Bhutan could export surplus energy and generate revenue, he said. 

International Solar Alliance is initiated by India and France and has an alliance of 124 countries - the latest to join the ISA being the US - that provides a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries and the wider global community to support the increasing use and harvesting of solar energy as an alternative energy source.

(SAM)

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