Bhutan, BOOM

bteLadies and gentlemen, we have our first country: essentially all electric vehicles, per national policy.  Bhutan had been in talks with Nissan; now, the nation’s soliciting Mitsubishi and Mahindra.  Bhutan can leapfrog to the future: no fossil burners (and thus money burners).

Bhutan’s in a precarious position.  Physically, they’re at the top of the world, the Himalayas.  Economically, they’re pretty much dependent on India for finished/manufactured goods.  That’d ruin the Bhutanese Ngultrum, except their currency is pegged to the Indian Rupee anyway.  Still, too many Ngultrums go out instead of in.  The one big exception: hydropower.  Like Norway and Iceland, rugged terrain and deep gorges mean abundant clean energy.  Bhutan’s top export (and arguably top product, period) is hydropower; the country exports the clear majority of its generating capacity to India.  Meanwhile, there’s no oil; any vehicle goo has to be purchased with whatever hydro profits are left over.

At least for now.  As a country they wised up; they’ll keep more hydro and Ngultrums local by adding EVs, not oil cages, motorbikes, and scooters.  Really, how hard’s that math?  Easy enough that Japan, France, China, Norway, Iceland, and even parts of Canada (an oil exporter like Norway) realized this.  Even Iran subsidizes EVs due to a trade deficit.

Of course, Bhutan’s dominant trade partner (dominating?) is on board.  India knows the average Bhutanese driver, let alone the average Bhutanese, is a bit stretched by Mitsubishi prices, let alone Nissan.  So a good number of those EVs will be Mahindras, and India still comes out in good shape financially.  Meanwhile, the loss of electricity imports to the Indian grid is minor.  Electric drive is about four times more efficient than piston engines with multispeed transmissions.  An EV thus uses a small amount of electrical energy to displace a much greater amount of gas or diesel.

Bhutan isn’t even close to tapping all its surveyed hydro capacity anyway.  Seriously, hydro development is estimated at a few percent of saturation.  And those same river canyons that allow dams also create wind channels, which the country is studying for its wind-turbine potential.  This is all in addition to solar panels continuing to fall in price; the government is seeking to develop isolated towns with solar until they can be reached with power lines.  The country is also trying to attract high-tech employment, bypassing energy-intensive industries altogether.  Can’t have too many options.

Bhutan has another exception to trade: its beautiful mountain scenery, unspoiled so far.  Thus, tourism is another important source of hard currency, and bulwark against oil deficits.  This golden goose can’t be cooked; industrializing Bhutan in a way that would ruin tourism would hurt the economy and nation.  Throw in, say, lower maintenance or other factors, and it’s a trifecta.  Bhutan should have come up with this before.  Maybe they did, and they were just waiting for products and processes to mature before making the announcement.  (To be fair, Bhutan hasn’t set any hard deadlines or schedules.  We know what happens when you don’t stick to a schedule.)

Yet, why haven’t we reached this conclusion?  Some have; oil is the top US import, and thus top of our own trade deficit.  Texas is now subsidizing EVs, and natural-gas vehicles… just like Iran.  Because if you have a resource that exports well, then you should be exporting it, duh, not burning it.  You should be consuming, instead, those resources that are difficult to send overseas.  Oil makes strange bedfellows, eh?  This is on top of former Shell exec John Hofmeister stating that “We can’t sustain our transportation needs in the current situation,” i. e., on oil, which China wants but doesn’t have.  If you’re sick and tired of Iran, look past your own hood and imagine becoming China’s “Iran” instead.  Reached a conclusion yet?  You can’t complain about a “falling dollar” and buy gold, when you drive a gas guzzler daily.

 

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One thought on “Bhutan, BOOM

  1. Pingback: OP-Ex? (or Indonesia, BOOM) | cableflux

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