Sustainable Agriculture with New Solar-Powered Cold Storage Facilities

In a significant move towards sustainable agricultural practices, Bhutan has unveiled a new solar-powered cold storage facility in Bondey, Paro, marking a major step forward in addressing the storage challenges that have long plagued the country’s agricultural sector. This facility, along with a similar installation in Zhemgang, aims to extend the shelf-life of perishable goods, reduce post-harvest losses, and improve market access for local farmers.

The opening of the cold storage facility was a collaborative effort between Bhutan’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) based in India. The inauguration was attended by MoENR Minister Gyem Tshering and ISA’s Director-General Dr. Ajay Mathur.

This initiative follows Bhutan’s full membership in the ISA since October 2022 and represents a key development in the country’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainable agricultural practices. The Bondey facility, which boasts a capacity of five metric tonnes, utilizes cutting-edge solar PV technology and thermal storage capabilities to maintain temperatures between 4 and 10°C, essential for preserving the quality of agricultural produce.

Lyonpo Gyem Tshering highlighted the strategic significance of Paro, noting its airport facilitates the rapid transportation of goods, thereby boosting the potential for agricultural exports. “The infrastructure not only supports local farmers by reducing losses due to inadequate storage but also positions Bhutan as a significant player in the regional agricultural market,” said Tshering.

The project also includes the establishment of the Solar Technology Application Resource Centre (STAR-C), under a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between MoENR, the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), and ISA. This center is designed to enhance local expertise in solar technologies, particularly among CST students and young professionals.

At the CPA signing, Dr. Mathur expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership’s progress. “This signing will further bolster our actions and facilitate the attainment of our goals. ISA remains fully committed to supporting Bhutan under this initiative,” he stated.

Moreover, the ISA is assisting Bhutan in developing a National Solar Energy Roadmap and provides regulatory support for solar tariffs, licensing, and standard-setting through the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Bhutan.

These developments underscore a significant shift towards renewable energy in Bhutan, aligning with global objectives under the Paris Agreement to promote energy security and sustainable development. The solar-powered cold storage facilities in Bondey and Zhemgang are expected to pave the way for further innovations in renewable energy and sustainable agricultural practices across the Himalayan nation.

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