Hydrogen economy: Prime Minister of Bhutan informs himself at ZBT

For the first time ever, a Prime Minister of Bhutan paid an official visit to Germany. Lotay Tshering also stopped at the ZBT to learn about hydrogen technologies.

Bhutan's Prime Minister Lotay Tshering is eager to learn about the hydrogen technology and economy.

The Kingdom of Bhutan, situated between India and China on the Himalayas, is considered one of the first climate-neutral countries. Three times as much CO2 is bound there as is emitted. Bhutan has achieved this by consistently protecting its forests and expanding renewable energies. "Our constitution requires that 70 per cent of the country's land area is always forested. Currently, we are at 72 per cent forest cover," Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said during his visit.

The country's energy system is largely based on hydropower. Exporting electricity to neighbouring countries is one of the pillars of Bhutan's economy. However, the effects of climate change are causing uncertainty. That is why the country is striving to diversify its energy supply.

"We have full production capacity in hydropower for seven to eight months, and then production drops to 40 per cent. This shows that the hydropower sector needs to be transformed," Prime Minister Tshering said during his visit to ZBT. The country is therefore planning to broaden its energy supply by expanding photovoltaic and wind energy and to make it future-proof. Short-term and seasonal storage of energy surpluses, for example with green hydrogen, could be a building block for this.

Prof. Dr. Harry Hoster, Scientific Director of ZBT, has another idea: "In order to reduce the ecological footprint of the cement industry in Bhutan, a combination of production with electrolysis would be a good idea. With the oxygen generated on site, cement production could be made more efficient, and the hydrogen could be used, for example, to reduce natural gas consumption in the country."

"We are CO2 neutral. We want to stay that way and at the same time we want to grow economically," Tshering pointed out the way forward for Bhutan. The prime minister therefore sees further need for development in the area of training skilled workers. "We want to learn technical things. For this, we want to set up a vocational training institute based on the German model."

Harry Hoster and ZBT Managing Director Dr Peter Beckhaus gave a comprehensive overview of the topic of Green Hydrogen, presented the Institute's work and led the delegation through the laboratories and onto the hydrogen test field. Beckhaus: "We are very pleased about the Prime Minister's visit and his interest in the topic of hydrogen and our Institute. We hope that we were able to give him useful information and some food-for-thought for the way home."

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