The agreement on further energy cooperation was reached at a meeting between Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås and Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu.
“Bhutan is a very poor country with water resources as substantial as those of Norway. We intend to provide support to ensure that the hydropower revenues are used to benefit the whole of Bhutan’s population,” said Mr Holmås.
The funding provided by Norway will help to secure access to electricity and other modern energy services for all the people of Bhutan, including the poor.
“Norway and Bhutan have cooperated on the development of the hydropower sector for over 20 years. Like Norway, Bhutan has vast water resources. We are now expanding this cooperation,” said Mr Holmås.
The cooperation with Bhutan will be based on the principles set out in the international energy and climate change initiative (Energy +), which was launched in 2011 by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The funding from Norway will be disbursed once results have been achieved in the form of increased access to energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and will be used to attract commercial investments. The Asian Development Bank will be a partner in these efforts.
To begin with, the cooperation between Bhutan and Norway will encompass the following:
- Support to improve access to energy services, such as electricity, heating and more effective cooking stoves in rural communities.
- Support to enhance the effectiveness of the authorities, for example through the development of better legislation.
- Support for the development of an energy and climate change plan for the entire energy sector.
- Support to improve energy efficiency, which in turn will enhance energy security.
Bhutan has managed to secure access to electricity for over 80 % of its population. It has set itself the ambitious goal of ensuring that all the people of Bhutan have access to electricity by the end of 2013. But much remains to be done to ensure that efficient solutions for heating and cooking are in place. As a rule, buildings are not insulated, even though it is cold at night and during the winter. Some 99 % of Bhutan’s energy supply comes from hydropower. A large proportion of this is exported to India.
As well as exploiting more of its vast hydropower potential, Bhutan is seeking to develop other renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar energy and biomass power in order to secure a more robust energy supply.
Photos from Mr Holmås’s visit to Bhutan are available on the Ministry’s Flickr page and may be downloaded and reused, provided credit is given to the photographer.