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Renewable energy to overcome power crisis in Bangladesh

20 November 2022

Prof Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder :
Bangladesh has more than a thousand people per square kilometer, making it one of the most populous countries in the world. As of 2022, Bangladesh is mostly dependent on coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, but there is significant potential for expansion in the renewable energy sector in Bangladesh. This is consistent with the latest World Bank data, which ranks Bangladesh among the 20 fastest-growing economies in terms of GDP. To keep pace with this expansion, energy production must increase, but this must be done with environmental protection as a priority.
 The rapid expansion of Bangladesh's economy has increased the country's energy demand, leading to shortages and other problems. The country has been grappling with acute power shortages for nearly ten years. Energy, and more specifically electricity, is a prerequisite for a country to achieve higher economic growth and reduce poverty levels. Hydro, solar, and wind power, efficient use is possible in Bangladesh. These are just a few of the various renewable sources. Solar energy is the most commonly available energy here, and it is completely free. At present solar thermal energy has traditionally been employed in various activities in Bangladesh, both domestic and industrial, but the process is inadequate yet.
Whereas, Renewable energy includes solar, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric energy that is derived directly from natural sources. How much of each type of renewable energy source may be utilized in a nation depends on the endowment of these resources. For instance, Bangladesh has no geothermal potential. Tidal energy is a novel energy source that has not yet entered the market. Consequently, the only available possibilities at this time are sun, wind and water. Bangladesh is able to use solar energy to generate sufficient electricity. Due to the subtropical climate, Bangladesh receives 70% less sunlight than the average year. Because of this, we can generate large amounts of electricity using solar panels. Bangladesh has seasonal variations in solar radiation. Bangladesh receives an average of 4-6.5 kWh/m2 of solar radiation per day. A suitable area for solar energy use is Bangladesh, which lies between 20.30- and 26.38-degree north latitude and 88.04 and 92.44 degree east. The government will be more active to increase this possibility. This business should be monitored by removing low-quality solar panels from the market. So that it is sustainable and common people can come forward to contribute solar renewables.
Bangladesh has a huge potential to generate electricity from solar. Bangladesh has set an ambitious target of generating more than 4,100 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 as the county seeks to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Solar power accounts for half the energy, at 2,277 MW, followed by hydro at 1,000 MW and wind at 597 MW. It plans to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP26. The goal, according to the NDC of Bangladesh, will only be reachable if it receives sufficient funding, technology, and capacity-building help to carry out the carbon-cutting commitments. Less than 1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to Bangladesh. However, because of the escalating sea levels brought on by greenhouse gas emissions, it is one of the most climate-vulnerable nations. As of 2021, currently, Bangladesh's installed power generation capacity is about 24,000 MW, behind 146 power plants, captive and off-grid sources. Of this amount, only 776 MW is generated from renewable sources, which represents about 3 percent of total electricity generation. If Bangladesh can achieve its targets set out in the NDC, it will take the share of renewable energy-based power generation capacity to around 10 percent in 2030, when the country aims to double the current level to 46,000 MW. According to data from the National Database of Renewable Energy, currently, nine solar power plants are operational, and eight more plants are under construction. Besides, 23 more projects are planned till 2030.
The National Solar Energy Action Plan for Bangladesh outlined plans to change the country's policy on renewable energy. By 2041, this intends for up to 40 GW to be installed. Along with this, there was a medium roll-out of 25 GW and an ordinary result of 8 GW. Consequently, given Bangladesh's capacity for renewable energy, its 40 GW objective may be difficult to meet. According to the newest data, renewable energy barely accounts for 3% of the country's total energy consumption. There is a chance for a quick changeover and a varied mix of renewable energy sources. For instance, the Kaptai dam's water surface might be used to generate solar energy on about 500 MW of capacity.  Over 30,000 MW of potential is represented by this. According to the REN21 report, Bangladesh, together with China, India, and Japan, is driving the development of renewable energy in Asia.
Bangladesh has one of the most effective off-grid renewable energy programs in the world, according to Dandan Chen of the World Bank, who used this as an example of this encouraging trend. To provide more solar power to the grid, the Bangladeshi government announced intentions to put rooftop solar power systems in all institutional establishments. Additionally, more electric vehicles will be used in place of fossil-fuel automobiles. And in 2021, the nation approved the initial 2018 proposal for the Electric Vehicle Registration and Operation Guidelines. Because of this, it is intended to build solar charging stations for EVs with an average capacity of 20 kilowatts.
Ultimately, institutional strength and government policies will drive Bangladesh's shift to renewable energy. For instance, IDCOL's Solar Home System Programme supports consumers and private businesses in the renewable energy market with money and technical know-how. As a result of such initiatives, Bangladesh today has the largest domestic solar power program in the world. 11% of the population is covered by it. By 2041, Bangladesh hopes to achieve high-income status. The maximization of green energy and the promotion of its introduction are essential factors in this master plan's definition of the desired goal to realize the vision.

(The Writer is the Dean; Faculty of Science, Chairman; Department of Environmental Science Stamford University Bangladesh).

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