Experts say the growth of renewable energy is the only way to address the challenges of sustainable development.
Pinky Akter: Fuel is one of the essential elements in poverty alleviation and socio-economic development. More than a century ago, the government took initiatives for rural electrification and development to eliminate the disparity in living standards between rural and urban areas. The plan is to go beyond gas, fuel oil and coal to use renewable energy. And as part of that, the government announced the renewable energy policy of 2008. The target of this plan was that 10 percent of the electricity generated in the country would come from the renewable energy sector. But even after 14 years of this plan, more than 3 and a half percent has not been achieved yet.
After the cancellation of 13 non-commissioned coal-fired power plants, there are plans to replace coal-fired power plants with an emphasis on LNG and renewable energy. Those concerned say that the sector has fallen behind the target due to specific planning, the inexperience of skilled man,powerthe and technology and shortage of land required for using solar energy.
The renewable energy sector was supposed to have equal importance in the development of the power sector like all other energy sources. But Bangladesh could not create a satisfactory position in power generation through the use of renewable energy.
In 2018, an annual plan was made regarding the generation of electricity from various renewable sources. The plan made an estimate of potential gains for the next three years (up to 2021) with 2018 as the base year. Various projects were also undertaken accordingly. Accordingly, in 2018, a total of 584.72 megawatts of electricity was expected to be generated from various renewable sources. After that, the target of 432.5 megawatts in 2019, 604.5 megawatts in 2020 and 555.5 megawatts in 2021 was set.
Mohammad Alauddin, the former chairman of Shreda, said, first of all, inexperience in renewable energy, then the delay in the action plan to make it useful and the shortage of the amount of land needed for this energy – all these things have led to the delay in meeting the target of renewable energy. But now various projects are being implemented.
Regarding power generation through solar systems, he said, we tried to go ahead with the solar system, but its capacity is very less. Only 300 MW of electricity can be produced from five lakh solar systems. Moreover, we are running out of space while implementing large-scale solar plans. To do such a big project, 350 acres of land were required. Which we couldn’t do. Besides, developing technology was also a big challenge.
According to Shrader data, a total of more than 40 projects have been undertaken to generate electricity from renewable energy, most of which were undertaken in 2017, 2018, and 2019. If these projects are implemented, it was estimated that a total of 2,110 megawatts of electricity will come from the solar parks established in 25 districts of the country. Among them, four solar parks with a capacity of 7.4 megawatts in the Kaptai upazila of Rangamati, eight in the Panchagarh Sadar upazila, 20 in the Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar, and three megawatts in Sarishabari upazila of Jamalpur have been completed. Apart from this, the country’s largest solar park built in Mymensingh has already gone into production.
Regarding the slow expansion of renewable energy, Bangladesh Sustainable and Renewable Energy Association (BSREA) senior vice-president Munawar Moin said, ‘Lack of proper policy support with a budget is the main problem in the development of this sector.
He said a target-based specific plan with a budget allocation should be adopted to increase renewable energy installations.’
Dhaka University Energy Institute Director Prof. Dr. Saiful Haque said there are several reasons for the lag in renewable energy. First, it took a long time to build up skilled manpower to work on the issue. 30 years ago, various countries of the world started working on renewable energy, but Bangladesh started it around 2008-10. Over the past 12 years, renewable energy has taken time to develop good ideas and skilled manpower.
He said, for a long time, the power sector was dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, it is still very difficult to implement the plan of power generation using other sources. Moreover, the equipment used to get electricity from this technology was expensive. Now the prices have come down, as a result, there is an investment now.
At the beginning of the long-term plan for power generation in the country, the government emphasized coal. For this reason, 50% of the country’s total electricity is produced from coal. The government’s ‘Electricity Generation Master Plan 2010’ was subsequently revised and a new target of 35% electricity generation from coal was set. But now coal will not be used as fuel in any power plant except Rampal, Payra, Matarbari projects.
Solar plants have gained immense popularity in India as well. India has the largest number of solar plants in the world. China, on the other hand, has shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and switched to wind power and many solar power plants. Currently, the largest solar plant in the world is located in Morocco. They have managed to install huge solar plants in the heart of the desert. Morocco is planning to export electricity to European countries to meet their own needs.
Experts say wind power can be a potential power source for the world. As a result, the people of the world will be freed from environmental pollution and will be able to reduce carbon emissions through renewable energy.
Bangladesh also has a potential side in terms of wind power generation. In particular, the length of the coastal area of Bangladesh is about 724 km, where there is a constant wind current. According to experts, Bangladesh can produce more than 2000 megawatts of electricity if this flow is utilized. The important places in Bangladesh are Hatia, Sandwip, Maheshkha, li, and Katubdia. Apart from this, wind turbines can be set up on the Padma-Meghna-Jumna river. In that case, the movement of airflow should be monitored first. At least three months of wind speed should be reviewed to decide whether turbine installation is suitable. The government has long expressed interest in wind power generation. It has already been decided to set up 150 MW wind power plants in Cox’s Bazar, Inani, and Chandpur’s Kachua.
Renewable energy can be harnessed not only from wind, but also from ocean waves, ocean heat, and tidal energy. Bangladesh has already set up the Kaptai hydroelectric power station using the water flow. Biogas is also used. It is also quite popular in Bangladesh.