Bhutan’s energy consumption drops

With Bhutan promising to maintain carbon neutral for all times to come, there was a slight drop in its energy consumption with drop in oil and coal consumption in 2019.

Bhutan’s energy consumption decreased from 520.54 Kilotonne of oil equivalent (KToE) in 2018 to 499.94 KToE in 2019 which accounts to reduction of 3.8%, according to the Annual Environmental Accounts Statistics, 2020 released by National Statistical Bureau (NSB) this week.

During the same period, the economy grew by 5.46% and population grew by 1.3% from 7,41,672 in 2019 from 7,34,374 in 2018.

Moreover, the urban population has increased by 37.80% in 2019 from 2018 with a growth rate of 1.3% and the country’s Gross Domestic Product per capita is recorded at US$ 3411.94 in 2019 from US$ 3031.35 in 2018.

According to studies, energy is the dominant contributor to climate change and it accounts for almost 60% of the total global green-house gas emissions.

Bhutan’s carbon dioxide emissions was recorded at 1,559,560 Metric Tonne(MT) in 2019 with 2.10T  per capita in 2019 compared to 2.173 in 2015, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

According to the Gross National Happiness Commission, Bhutan has an ecological footprint of 1.8 hectare per capita.

Besides hydropower being the main source of energy in the country, energy products like coal and fossil fuels are imported from India to cater to the needs of economic sectors, particularly industry and transport sector.

Renewable energy (electricity, wind, wood) accounts for the largest share of Bhutan’s energy consumption, at 42% in 2019 mainly hydro energy.

Additionally, the domestic production of primary energy increased by almost 30% in 2019 compared to 2018 at 903KToE; mainly due to the commissioning of 720MW Mangdechhu hydropower plant towards the second half of 2019.

The supply of electricity increased to 8,972.24 Gigawatt hours (Gwh) in 2019 from 7,093.79 Gwh in 2018, which is an increase of about 27%.

Bhutan imported almost 69% of the total electricity supply, while around 25% were consumed domestically and a negligible amount was lost as transmission loss.

The overall domestic consumption of electricity decreased by 2% in 2019 compared to 2018, whereas the share of export has increased by 35%.

In monetary terms, the supply of electricity increased drastically from Nu 15,526.02mn in 2018 to Nu 20,890.09mn in the year 2019, which is an increase of about 34.5%.

Bhutan also imported electricity during the lean season that accounted for just more than 1% of the total supply, whereas almost 99% was internal generation.

On the other hand, oil (diesel, petrol, kerosene, aviation turbine fuel) remains the second largest fuel consumed in 2019, accounting for 31% of energy consumption.

Despite the rise in oil and coal consumption in the past five years (2014 to 2018), the consumption of oil and coal dropped in 2019 by 6% and 7% respectively compared to 2018.

Fossil fuel import accounted for more than 60% of the total energy import mainly for transport sector followed by coal used for industry sector with 18% to 30% of the total energy import.

Meanwhile, the overall energy imported in the country decreased by more than 7% in 2019. Moreover, Bhutan imported oil at some 3,460 barrels per day accounting to 200,787 Kiloliter (KL) in 2019 worth Nu 11,929.02mn from Nu 12,050.97mn in 2018 showing a slight decrease of about 1%.

The supply of diesel decreased from 156,818 KL in 2018 to 149,905KL in 2019 and the supply of petrol has increased from 46,932 KL in 2018 to 50,882 KL in 2019.

The uses of petrol and diesel are directly proportional to imports, pertaining to import growths of 8% and -4% respectively.

Moreover, in terms of % share, diesel import accounts for 74.6% while petrol accounts for 25.3%.

The service sector remains highest at 35.17%, followed by industrial sector at 20.61%, household at 19.42%, and agriculture sector accounts 12.99%. Additionally, the import of LPG has increased with 10,341 MT in 2019 compared to 10,002 MT in 2018.

The country also imported 2,886KL of kerosene in 2019 worth Nu 79.93mn from 3,597KL in 2018 worth 79.34mn that is a decrease of about 20% due to being used for only household purposes from 2018 onwards unlike being used for industrial purposes.

On the other hand, Bhutan exported 85% to 97% hydropower energy of its total energy export with coal making up 1.16% of the remaining share of export.

Additionally, the country also re-exported 22,625.31KL in 2019, a decrease by almost 36% from 2018 of petrol and diesel consumed by Indian vehicles plying on Bhutanese roads transporting goods in and out of Bhutan, fuel consumed by Indian tourist vehicles and refueling by Indian vehicles in the border towns.

Further, a total of about 95,592 cubic meter fuel wood was supplied in 2019 with household consumption accounting for almost 48%, and industries consumed the remaining 53% of total consumption.

As per records, stock of briquette increased to 373.44MT in 2019 and constituted an increase of about 14% when compared to 2018.

Timber amounting to 9.30 cubic ft was produced in 2019, which is almost double the amount supplied in accounting year 2018.

The total stock as well as disposal of sand increased in 2019 compared to 2018, with growth of almost 10% and 7.0% respectively.

On the non-metallic resources, the extraction of coal, dolomite was 0.185mn MT and 3.028mn MT respectively in the year 2019.

Limestone and gypsum extractions remained almost steady with an annual average extraction of 0.98mn MT and 0.36mn MT respectively. However, talc extraction dramatically decreased in 2019 with 0.001mn MT from 0.07mn MT in 2018.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu