Energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit lying on the ground.~Stevan Chu, Former US Energy Secretary.
The idea of efficient energy use is not a novel one. Emerging first as conservation initiatives, and marketed heavily through a “save it” mentality, the concept of energy efficiency has globally shifted through various phases of conservation, management, and reduction. Throughout this timeline, the interest generated by the field has only multiplied. As the focus on the role that energy efficiency could play in meeting international energy and climate goals has increased, policy interest in the area has also grown over the past decade.
With Bhutan making strides towards socio-economic development and growth, the concept of energy efficiency becomes increasingly important for us to confront as a nation. There are many projects and industries to achieve this through. The International Energy Agency estimates that globally, the building sector is responsible for the most electricity consumption at 42%. Given this and the upward trajectory in the opportunities that commercial buildings hold and the rising number of buildings, the building sector happens to house many of the “low-hanging fruit” initiatives for Bhutan.
In trying to understand what kind of energy efficiency initiatives and interventions might be successful for buildings in Bhutan, it is also important to understand the biggest drivers behind energy consumption. As brief points of reflection, the following are a few common issues that impede a building’s potential in achieving energy efficiency and solutions and best practices from around the globe to help mitigate the issue.
In Bhutan, the building sector alone consumes 41.6% of electricity (International Renewable Energy Agency). There have been various initiatives by local actors, both exclusively and in partnership with an external party. The Department of Renewable Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs has consistently published reports. The most notable, the Energy Efficient Roadmap finds that the government could bring in an additional revenue Nu. 336 million by improving energy efficiency across buildings, appliances, transport and industry. InnoTech’s DRIVE center has been involved in prototyping projects under our Smart City Initiative. One of such projects is an efficient energy management system that attempts to tackle various issues with our current energy system.
All these initiatives point to one thing: change is coming, and change must come. In a world that is racing to reap the benefits from solving the different puzzles presented by energy efficiency, we need to ensure that we are placed strategically in the equation. Perhaps one day, we might be the pioneers forging ahead, but in order for that future to exist, Bhutan must first work its current state of energy use.