A rapid scale-up of 2,000 MW solar power capacity and replacement of all diesel-run irrigation systems with solar power could save Bangladesh more than one billion USD worth of LNG and diesel imports per annum, finds a study by US-based National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR).
The study reveals that replacing diesel-fired irrigation systems with solar-powered systems and new capacity addition of 2,000 MW of solar power for daytime application could help avoid 5.58 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.
“The present energy crisis is an opportunity for Bangladesh to build increasingly competitive renewable energy capacity and thus reduce the dependence and imports of expensive and volatile fossil fuels, such as LNG,” said Shafiqul Alam, the author of the study.
The cost of electricity generation from rooftop systems currently stands at Tk. 5.25 per kWh. Therefore, industries can reduce per unit electricity cost during the daytime by 40 per cent compared to the cost of grid electricity. Similarly, utility-scale solar can generate electricity at Tk. 7.6/kWh, which is 14 per cent less than the average electricity generation cost of the Bangladesh Power Distribution Board (BPDB) in FY 2021-22.
The study additionally finds that Bangladesh could build more than 12,000 MW renewable energy capacity without putting any pressure on the agricultural land if industrial rooftops and special economic zones are used, and diesel-powered irrigation systems are replaced with solar-powered systems.
Meanwhile, another key finding of the study is that interest rates under the green refinancing scheme of Bangladesh Bank are already favourable for renewable energy expansion in the country.
However, funding from multilateral agencies and international sources is needed for the accelerated deployment of renewable energy in the country. A scale-up of renewable energy would boost Bangladesh’s energy security needs and contribute to a stable electricity supply.