“The whole economy is dependent on hydropower,” adds Wangmo. “And climate change will definitely impact hydropower. That is why it is our biggest worry.”
Gyeltshen and his team have assessed sites for solar and wind projects in hopes of diversifying the economy, but with hydropower electricity being as cheap as it is, “we see these projects being more as a Plan B,” he says.
The logical next question then is diversifying to what. Perhaps more tourism, other industries, cryptocurrencies. But, Rinzin reminds bluntly, “we should not forget that any diversification work that you do will need electricity. And the only source we have today is hydropower.”
And so Bhutan continues to make huge investments in hydropower. Sitting in her small office in Thimphu, the country’s growing capital, Wangmo worries aloud. “If in 30 years this water dries up, what do we do?”
This is an adaptation of an article published on the site Mongabay.