City Action in Thimphu (Bhutan)
Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan which is located within an area space of 1,794.87 km2,. A population of 116,012 lives in Thimphu Dzongkhag in 2015 with an estimated population density of 64.6 per km2 (National Statistics Bureau, 2017a) and future projection foresee the city to grow. Thimphu’s households are 100% electrified. 64.3% of Thimphu’s land is covered by the forest (in 2016) (National Statistics Bureau, 2017a), which contributes in net carbon sink. Some of Thimphu’s initiatives on energy generation/ conservation, sustainable transport and waste management are discussed below: In response to an increasing energy demand in the city, Thimphu is initiating measures to implement renewable energy (e.g. Solar and Wind) and improve energy efficiency. Thimphu is replacing street lamps with LED lighting which could save 2 to 3 million units of electricity each year (Tshomo, 2015; ICLEI, 2016).
Vehicle density is high in urban areas of Bhutan, including Thimphu. The city public transport services (buses) are inadequate so that use of taxis and private modes of transport (private cars and two wheelers) are increasing. Metropolitan areas have typical characteristics of higher incomes, shorter travel times, and more incentives to improve air quality or reduce CO2 emissions, making them more suitable for EV programs. Thimphu has these characteristics, which, along with its mild climate, make it a good pilot area for testing the new EVs and building a foundation for a cost-effective countrywide roll-out (Zhu, Patella, Steinmetz, & Peamsilpakulchorn, 2016). Bhutan plans to make Thimphu - a clean Green Electric city (Tshering, 2014). As of March 2016, 52 Nissan Leaf EVs had been introduced in Bhutan, including 13 for government officials and 39 for general users, most of which in Thimphu (Gross National Happiness Commission, 2016). A quick charging stations on the road between Paro and Thimphu, the two main cities of Bhutan, are available (Tijhuis, n.d.). Moreover, Thimphu municipality plans to build dedicated cycle lanes and tracks around the city, and transforming Thimphu into a bicycle-friendly city (Sundas, 2016).