Bangladesh’s quest for producing 10 per cent of its total electricity generation capacity from environment-friendly green sources stumbled as it failed to reach half of the target for heavy dependency on coal-fired power plants.
Though the target outlined in the revised Power System Master Plan2016 was to produce 2,000 megawatts of green power in 2020, the power Cell data shows only 627.92 megawatts of electricity could be produced through green sources including solar, wind, hydro, biogas and biomass.
At present, the installed capacity of renewable energy stands at 724.19 megawatts with solar, wind, hydro, biogas and biomass combined away short of 1,275.81 MW from 2000 MW.
Policymakers said that lack of investment in the renewable energy sector and land scarcity were responsible for failing to meet the target. The environment campaigners found the government’s inconsistent policies such as relying heavily on oil, gas and coal for quick production of had pushed the renewable energy sector into a corner.
Anu Muhammad, Jahangirnagar University economics professor and member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, told The Business Post in the past week that because of a strong lobby for coal-fired power plants, the renewable energy sector could not make expected progress.
“If the government was really sincere, we could easily meet the target of generating 10 per cent electricity from green energy as the policy was framed in 2010 and later it was revised in 2016. By the period, a number of coal-fired power plants came into operation and the renewable energy sector became ignored,” he added.
“It is high time to invest in the green energy sector as the price of hardware related to renewable energy is coming down heavily in the global market and coal is getting costlier day by day,” said Anu Muhammad.
Mohammad Alauddin, chairman of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, told the Business Post in the past week, “Green energy demands huge investment which we failed to attract but initiatives are on to manage funds for this sector.”
“We are hopeful to double the generation by 2021 as some power plants are in the mature stage to supply electricity to the national grid. Scarcity of land in the country is also an obstacle to set up large scale solar panels,” he added.
Taking to The Business Post on Monday, the minister for power, energy and mineral resources, Nasrul Hamid, said, "We are updating the master plan of our power system emphasising on solar power and other green energy sources as it is environment friendly.”
He called on the global lenders to step up with the long term and viable financial incentive to promote such an effort to source more energy from renewable sources.
"We have some constraints like land scarcity and financing in promoting solar power and other green energies. We are up for meeting the target of generating more energy from green sources in the days to come. Our prime minister Sheikh Hasina already requested the global financiers to step up with soft and easy credit terms loan to invest in green energy," the minister said replying to a query about the reason behind failing to achieve the target of producing 10 per cent of electricity from green sources.
"We are planning to use uncultivable land for setting up of solar panel as it demands huge swath of land considering the size of the capacity of power plant," the minister added.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, at a briefing on Bangladesh's participation in a summit on climate change at the invitation of US president Joe Biden on April 23, said, “Bangladesh will reduce dependency on the use of coal to generate electricity and will put greater emphasis on renewable energy as part of the efforts to combat change”.
On carbon emissions from coal-fired power projects, Momen said, “We undertook some coal-fired power plants but in future, we will reduce the number of coal-fired power plants as we are moving towards renewable energy."
Bangladesh’s installed capacity of electricity as of late April stood at 25,138 MW and nearly half of the electricity comes from gas fired power plants which is 45.16 per cent equivalent to 11,352 MW, followed by 29.07 per cent from heavy fuel oil and highspeed diesel-fired power plant which is 7,334 MW, shows Power Cell data.
The Power Cell records also show that captive power plants, basically installed for industrial consumption, generate 11.14 per cent of electricity equivalent to 2800 MW followed by 7.03 per cent equivalent to 1768 MW from coal-fired power plants while imported electricity contributes 4.61 per cent to the total generation capacity, which is 1160 MW and renewable energy generates only 2.88 per cent which is 724.19 MW of the total electricity generation capacity.
Bangladesh Power Development Board data shows highest daily consumption in the country hovers around 9000MW to 13000 MW while the highest daily generation was recorded on April 4, 2021, which is 13,377 MW although the generation capacity is almost double of the demand incurring a huge amount of public money in subsidy and tax break.
According to a review of British journal ScienceDirect titled “Present energy scenario and future energy mix of Bangladesh” dated back to November, 2020, outlined the right mixture of energy as such 25 per cent from coal, 25 per cent from natural gas, and 35 per centrenewable energies.
“The power generating sector of Bangladesh largely depends on natural gas since the reserve of natural gas is higher compared to all other fossil fuel-based energy resources. However, natural gas is predicted to deplete by the year 2028, which threatens the future energy security of Bangladesh,” reads the article.