Bangladesh is looking forward to renewable energies to contribute to reducing global warming. For that, Renewable energy is a great option to switch to. Reliance on renewable energy is increasing in Bangladesh as in other countries of the world. At the same time, the country is trying to meet its energy demands depending on solar energy along with other renewable energies. But due to the limitations of power generation and the growing pressure of the population, it is often not possible to maintain the diversity of production and supply.
This growing development requires more energy access that needs to be more secure, renewable, and environmentally friendly. The major sources of renewable energy in Bangladesh are– solar, wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal, tidal power, ocean water energy, etc. but tidal and ocean water power energy are yet to proceed.
The following chart shows the power generation capacity of these renewable sources-
|Sources||On-grid (MW)||Off-grid (MW)||Total (MW)|
|Biogas to electricity||0||0.69||0.69|
|Biomass to electricity||0||0.4||0.4|
Figure 1: chart of power generation capacity of various renewable energies
Figure 2: pie-chart of renewable energy share
source 1: SREDA
Since solar energy includes the sun, it has become a great source of renewable energy because we see that 70% of energy comes from solar technology. It converts solar energy into electrical energy. This transformation can be processed in two ways – directly and indirectly.
Direct conversion: In this process, direct sunlight is used. This process is therefore called photovoltaic (PV). It is used on small and medium scales.
Indirect conversion: In this process concentrated sunlight is used to produce electricity. That is why this method is called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).
Current Status of Renewable Energy in Bangladesh:
At present, the electricity used for the daily needs of households is being generated by solar panels. Solar panels are a collection of numerous photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into usable electricity. Bangladesh currently sells an average of about 60,000 solar home systems per month. Around 3 million+ solar home systems have been installed across the country with the help of various NGOs. In addition to tax exemptions on solar panels, Bangladesh has adopted various initiatives and economic plans, including grants and concessional loans for the installation of solar energy in the country.
Bangladesh has one of the most extensive ongoing solar energy programs in the world. Bangladesh ranks second in the world in terms of household solar power consumption. Bangladesh has installed more than 6 million solar-home systems across the country in the last few years to ensure solar power to about 17 million people. Bangladesh has replaced the diesel-powered irrigation system with solar irrigation pumps which will have a grid immigration system to supply solar power to the national grid during the dry season. The government has recently adopted net metering guidelines for the promotion of solar power in cities and on the roofs of industrial establishments. The Government of Bangladesh has adopted a comprehensive climate change and strategic plan, one of the six goals of that is global warming mitigation and low carbon emission. Bangladesh has already canceled 10 coal-fired power plants with 12 billion in foreign investment. Recently, the National Solar Energy Roadmap has been prepared and aims to take 40% of the energy from renewable sources by 2041.
The challenges to overcome are:
According to the Global Climate Scope Rankings, Bangladesh ranks 41st in terms of attractiveness for renewable energy investment. Considering the geographical location, long coastline, and climate of this country, opportunities for other renewable energy sources including solar energy seem to be very favorable for Bangladesh.
Although there is a lot of potential for renewable energy in Bangladesh, in terms of its implementation, the country faces many challenges such as-
- Lack of experience,
- Investment crisis,
- Less technical support, etc.
By adding high technology and expertise, these challenges can be mitigated through the right investment policy for both public and private investors.
There are two important facts about the use of solar energy: first, the advancement of solar and wind technology, thus reducing production costs and becoming logically more acceptable, and second, solar energy is a great source of environmentally friendly and renewable energy for fossil replacement.
Sustainability of Bangladesh:
Bangladesh’s government has planned to generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. For this, the government has taken a total of 19 solar power projects of a total 1070 MW capacity. The government of Bangladesh is expecting to produce 1500MW electricity by 2030 by using solar energy. Long-term average sunlight data show that the duration of bright sunlight varies from 3 to 11 hours daily in coastal areas of Bangladesh. This indicates that Bangladesh has good potential in solar energy both for solar thermal and Agri-photovoltaic applications. Bangladesh has a 710km long coastline, which has great potential to produce solar and wind energy. Initiatives have been taken for proper implementation of the delta plain, which includes large-scale construction of solar and wind power plants along the river banks.
Although Bangladesh is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and has rivers all over the country, wind energy is not a secure resource option for the country. In that case, solar energy is the safest and most reliable RE resource that can be applied on a small to large scale. In addition, domestic and foreign investment is being added in both industrial roof projects and grid-linked utility-scale. Previously we had 12% of our solar efficiency. But with the variability of solar power usage, the efficiency increases from 18% to 20% which requires less land. Overall, all the initiatives including mini-grid, micro-grid, solar home system, no-land cultivation, solar pumping, and much more impactfully play a great role in the sustainability of Bangladesh.
Eliminate the off-grid energy crisis using Solar Home System (SHS)
Bangladesh has the largest network of solar home systems both in urban and rural settings. Almost 15 million people in rural areas are now using this technology. Approximately more than 15% of the population of Bangladesh has no electricity supply. A big reason is a high cost of connecting the line to the grid. For those barriers, people in those areas need a cellular way to create energy sources. In the mid-eighties, some private enterprises played a pivotal role in setting up the first solar home system in Sylhet. Subsequently, the Solar Home System (SHS) program was extensively expanded by Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL). It is currently the largest renewable energy program in Bangladesh since the introduction of SHS in 1997. About 6 million solar-home systems have been installed so far and the number is sloping upward due to the cooperative efforts added by the government such as adopting the integrated programs through financial institution IDCOL. This scheme is known as solar home systems (SHS) to provide electricity to households with no grid access. Every month more than 50,000 systems being added since 2009, the World Bank has called it “the fastest-growing solar home system program in the world.” The solar home system is a vast and long-term dependable energy generating system. Through the implementation of this system, the people of the off-grid energy network are getting the benefit of electricity. The “unique Grameen Credit” and “Cost by Down” systems have played a major role in the development of SHS in rural areas. Although off-grid rooftop solar power, known as the Solar Home System (SHS), is growing and being used throughout the country, the contribution of SHS to the national electricity demand is very small (only 250Mw). Thus, on-grid solar power is required to generate large amounts of electricity.
- Rooftop solar home system
However, the Installation of 6.9 million solar-home systems is on the plan. Rooftop solar and solar mini-grid projects facilitated the capacity of 3.07 MW and 5 MW, respectively. On the garments and textiles building rooftops,5,000 MW could be installed and 2,000 MW on government buildings as an alternative solution to land scarcity.
- Replace contaminating diesel pumps.
Almost 32 MW of electricity could be generated from solar irrigation projects running more than 1300 pumps used by rural people.
- Floating solar panels on water bodies
Being a riverine country, Bangladesh has huge potential for floating solar energy. According to estimates, it is possible to generate 1500 MW using even one-third of the water body installation.
Adding off-grid to the on-grid network (Net metering in SHS):
Bangladesh is a very small country, as a result, it faces land scarcity when it comes to the implantation of a large solar plant. Generating only 1 MW of electricity requires about 4 acres of land which reduces our farmland. For this reason, the issue of power generation through the installation of solar systems on the unused roofs that are connected directly to the various grid installations such as houses and factories is being seriously considered. In addition, the government provides various initiatives to encourage non-grid dwellers to contribute. In a few years, it shows its extremely impressive results. Where 4 acres of land was required to generate 1 MW of electricity, now it has come down to about 3 acres.
Net Metering Process –
In a net metering system, the electricity customer supplies surplus power to the distribution grid using the electricity generated in the renewable energy-based system installed in his installation. The contributed electricity will be adjusted to the electricity bills for the next month of the contributor. In this way, they can save on electricity costs. So far, the net metering system has been introduced in more than fifty countries of the world including neighboring India and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, a building of the Food Department in the Bogra district is connected to the distribution grid for the import and export of electricity through net metering. This is truly an innovative process for dealing with electrical problems. If we wish, we can extend this process internationally, including developed countries and many deserts such as the UAE, the Sahara Desert, etc., as we are connected to the Internet.
Figure 3: net metering on a roof of a home
Solar energy in agriculture (Agri-PV):
Bangladesh is agricultural land. Here, the most important sector of Bangladesh’s economy is agriculture. At present, the contribution of agriculture to GDP is 18.64% of the country. Thus, it is one of the driving forces behind the growth of Bangladesh. It needs proper policy support to secure efficient agricultural output. Overall, more than 5 percent GDP growth is projected in 2021 despite the covid-19 pandemic. During February, March, and April the BORO irrigation requires a huge amount of water in the cultivation process. But with diesel-powered engines, becomes extremely expensive for farmers. As a result, crop production is being disrupted due to a lack of water supply. This process is environmentally-threatening too because it emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment. The irrigation sector accounts for 43% of agricultural expenditure. Solar-based alternative energy sources can reduce costs and achieve great efficiency in solving irrigation problems. Solar-powered irrigation is an innovative and eco-friendly solution. It can play a very important role in the agrarian economy. Many crops and plants do not require any direct sunlight. Installing solar panels on crops can also be a solution to the shortage of land. This two-way use of the same land not only helps the individual but also the development of the country’s economy. Also, installed solar irrigation systems remain unused for more than half of the year, allowing further expansion of power generation by connecting to the grid or storing energy in batteries for other uses.
Figure 4: Agri-PV
As a result of these initiatives, we can save ourselves from the long-lasting damage to nature and bring back the true glory of nature.
Some of the largest solar plants in Bangladesh:
Researchers hope that a 10% contribution from solar energy could have a major impact on power generation. If the result goes over 10% it will be a massive change in the power generation sector.
Below are some of the largest solar power plants-
- Mymensingh Solar Power Station, Mymensingh
This power plant can generate 73MW of electricity, which will help meet the target of generating 10% of total electricity by 2021. This project is located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River at Gauripur in Mymensingh. The solar power plant installed 173K solar panels and 332 inverters using Huawei Smart Photovoltaic (PV) technology.
Figure 5: Mymensingh Solar Power Station, Mymensingh
2. Teknaf Solar Power Station, Cox’s Bazar
This power plant can generate 20MW of electricity. Power generation projects have exceeded 5% of the total demand of the country. This project is in TeknafUpazila, Cox’sBazar. A total of 87K solar panels were used in the plant.
Figure 6: Teknafpower plant, Cox’s Bazar
Despite many shortcomings and limitations, we can say that Bangladesh is moving forward as a truly sustainable and developed country. As a result, just as we can use technology to produce energy, so we can absorb clean oxygen without contaminants. By taking advantage of nature without harming it, we can be at the forefront of protecting ourselves and nature.