Asia Development Bank report says hydropower is key to Bhutan, Asia’s fastest growing economy

Bhutan is the fastest growing economy in Asia, according to a new report from the Asian Development Bank. The report says economic growth in 2017 will be based on stepped-up hydropower plant construction that in 2018 will be complemented by increased electricity-generating capacity.

In its Outlook 2017 report released this month, the Asian Development Bank forecasts Bhutan’s economy is expected to grow 8.2% in 2017 and surge to 9.9% in 2018.

Bhutan has built its economy by focusing on clean energy that helps counter the impacts of climate change, the report says, and Bhutan has untapped hydropower resources estimated at 30 GW, but only about 5% of that has been developed.

The report says large hydropower plants built for electricity export in recent years were bundled with programs to bring power to surrounding remote communities.

In February, reported Bhutan identified hydropower as important to its economic development. Hydropower was Bhutan’s largest export through the past fiscal year, accounting for 32.4% of the country’s total exports and 8% of its gross domestic product.

Bhutan is one of the emerging economies in Asia driving global growth, and additional developing countries in Asia are currently contributing 60% of all economic growth generated worldwide, according to the report.

In 2016, the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) said it was in favor of a framework for inter-regional grid connectivity resulting from the greatly increasing installed hydroelectric capacity in Bhutan.

SAARC member states include: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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