Experts at a high-level policy dialogue have said that the share of renewable energy should be increased to ensure smart energy and energy security in building Smart Bangladesh.
The policy dialogue titled “Smart Energy for a Smart Bangladesh: Connecting distributed solar and storage to the national grid for improved livelihoods and national grid resilience” was based on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)-supported project jointly implemented by Shakti Foundation and SOLshare.
The policy dialogue was held at Magnolia Hall of Lakeshore Heights Hotel on Wednesday, just a day ahead of the start of the international climate summit COP28 in Dubai.
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for Climate Change, Saber Hossain Chowdhury attended the programme as the chief guest while Sarah Cooke, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, and Waseqa Ayesha Khan, chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Division, as the guests of honour.
This project integrates two of Bangladesh’s major electrification systems--the national grid with the deployment of solar home systems (SHS) in a peer-to-peer (P2P) solar micro-grid and an electric three-wheeler charging pitstop through a single point.
The project showcases a sustainable approach for the six million solar home systems (SHSs) in Bangladesh with the potential of creating millions of green jobs.
By integrating with the grid, it contributes to the national renewable energy targets and creates an extra income source for vulnerable communities. This initiative marks a global first, transforming a small farming community from passive consumers to proactive prosumers, co-powering the country.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury said, “The most important policy adaptation that we need is bi-directionality for this innovation; being able to buy and sell excess solar electricity. I believe we need less of a fundamental change of policies and more of a modification of policies that would allow this energy transition to take place.”
Sarah Cooke said, “We have particularly supported this initiative around integrating solar into the national grid because the sooner the conversion to renewable energy happens, the more cost effective it will be and the quicker Bangladesh will be able to ensure energy security.”
“We believe the project has achieved substantial achievements in benefitting the consumers and in terms of reducing fossil fuel usage.”
Waseqa Ayesha Khan said, “This project is using existing assets (solar home systems and lithium batteries of electric three wheelers) to benefit rural communities and turn them into micro-entrepreneurs. It is a great initiative, and I am all for it.”
“We just have to keep in mind proper recycling (of lithium batteries), waste management and those women in the community benefit from it.”
Imran Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director of Shakti Foundation, expressed enthusiasm for the project, emphasizing Shakti's commitment to creating green jobs for marginalized communities.
He highlighted the project's potential to prevent solar home systems from becoming redundant and contribute to the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP) by 2041.
Underscoring the economic advantages of the initiative, Sebastian Groh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of SOLshare, said that community-level micro-entrepreneurs were not seeking higher prices but were on par, avoiding depletion of forex reserves.
Groh also emphasized the value of providing renewable energy backed by storage for sustainable local entrepreneurship.