Atikur Rahman

Bangladesh: Solar energy needed for energy security

Government has taken an initiative to popularize solar power in the face of the severe shortage of power in Bangladesh. But when the power deficit is almost two thousand megawatts, then how much will the demand of alternative energy such as solar energy can meet?

NGOs and commercial firms interested in alternative fuels are very optimistic about this: Erat is particularly likely to have solar power to meet the needs of poor people in remote areas. But the experts are skeptical: they think it is not a solution to the current crisis. In the past 15 years, non-governmental organizations are working to encourage solar power in Bangladesh.

As such, about 40 lakh people in the rural areas of Bangladesh are now being benefited using solar energy. If solar panels are installed from one to five kilowatts of solar panels on the roofs of the city's buildings, then it is possible to provide an additional power grid line by meeting the demand of the room, reduce the load shedding. According to the estimates of private companies, the present ten megawatts of electricity coming from solar power in Bangladesh can be increased up to two to three hundred megawatts.

According to experts, solar power has become a huge part of economic development in the developing countries of the modern world. New communication system for the growing population in Bangladesh, the development and expansion of the industrial sector and the necessity of this alternative energy of new technologies are essential. The demand for solar power in the country is increasing for the global market to survive. Especially in the remote areas of the country, the power supply will be used. Similarly, if the government can bring residential customers under the system, then the amount spent for electricity bill will be reduced considerably. The government's plan is being implemented gradually to produce renewable solar power. Basically most of the projects are stuck at the planning stage.

Although the solar home system (SHS) is expanding, no new projects of sustainable energy for grid-based sustainable projects have been accepted. Even though the two projects of solar power were formal contracts, the implementation could not be started. Due to the dispute over financing, land crisis and land, the project is delayed.

However, experts say production costs are high for renewable energy. According to them, if all the machinery for solar power production was produced in the country, the price would have been very low. But so far all the parts of solar power generation in the country are imported from abroad. However, the indigenously built battery is used for this purpose. But the cost of solar electricity is not decreasing due to the high battery prices. The government withdrew all types of tariffs from the solar panel in 2009. As a result, the price of solar panels is slightly reduced but there is no major change in overall electricity generation cost. Talking to the stakeholders of the sector, the government has not done anything much for this sector except the withdrawal of tax from the solar parts. According to them, it is possible to reduce the cost of producing solar panels by importing the equipment in the local market as an alternative to importing.

Meanwhile, the solar power system is expanding. Solar home system is being set up in residential areas, public buildings and shops in areas where it is not possible to reach the national grid due to the geographical area of the country. And the World Bank's funding is helping the called the Infrastructure Development Company IDCOL. They are implementing this project through various NGOs. There are 15 non-governmental organizations, especially Rural Energy, BRAC, Creative, Bridge, Rural Services Bangladesh and the Sonali Development Foundation, to establish this solar home system in rural areas. Currently, about one million solar power systems are being used for production. By the end of next year IDCOL plans to install more than 6.5 million solar home systems through IDCOL.

Digital Bangladesh is one of the most discussed election pledges of the current Awami League government. To ensure the spread of information technology in the country of digital Bangladesh, we must first ensure uninterrupted power supply. And this work will never be possible in this government's time. It is not possible to give uninterrupted power only to the government that will come in future. Limited energy resources, including oil, gas and coal, are not only in Bangladesh, but also in the world. Scientists are thinking of solar power as an alternative. We now need to streamline the thinking in that sector. So that the advancement of information technology is not in any way hindered. Solar power is getting popular in the world due to the ease of alternative electricity in the world.

According to the scientists, if the electricity demand is increasing, alternate fuel will not be able to produce electricity by oil, and only 35 years, until the beginning of 2045. The coal reserves will end in 215 AD. However, the amount of energy that the sun gives in an hour is possible to meet the demand of electricity of all the people of the world all year round. This is not an awkward story, scientists have researched on this. Currently, the supply of two major raw materials of fuel and coal is not inaccessible; they will end one day. But there is no reason to worry. The amount of energy that comes from the sun's light is closer to the total amount of all fossil fuels and atomic energy in the world. According to the DesertTech Foundation's data, if one percent of solar panels are installed all over the world in the desert, then it is possible to meet the demand for electricity of the entire world. New research is going on in the country in search of alternative energy solutions to solve the crisis of electricity.

Solar power is getting popular in the world due to the ease of alternative electricity in the world. According to the International Energy Council statistics, in 2008, the investment in solar power surpassed $ 33.5 billion. Although advanced countries are far ahead of technology, the popularity of solar power has increased in the developing countries of Asia, especially in China, India and Bangladesh. The use of solar power increased 44 percent worldwide. The production of solar power has increased to 20,000 megawatts. Of this, 6,400 megawatts have increased last year. According to the 2010 solar forecast, this year, solar energy will increase by more than 40 percent in the world. Europe is at the top with the use of solar power technology. But the United States is not behind. Bangladesh is a very promising country for solar power, because there is more than 300 days of sunshine a year here.

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus's village power organization has brought a breakthrough in the development of solar power in Bangladesh. The 5.5 million solar home system of IDCOL has been established in different parts of the country so far, of which, three and a half million have made rural power. The company has plans to increase the number to 20 lakh by 2017. With the demand for electricity production and not being able to cope with it, the country is in dire need of power. The solar panel has been set up at the Prime Minister's Office. Not only rural or isolated populations, Bangladesh Bank has set up the country's largest solar panel to encourage the use of solar power in the capital. There is no major central bank in the world which are illuminated by the sunlight. This is the first such initiative taken by any central bank in the world. Under the Bangladesh Bank's refinance scheme, there is a fund of Tk 200 crore, from which 20 banks offer easy conditions for projects like solar power and biogas.

People think that by the year 2021, there may be a lot of government skepticism to get electricity from home. According to the sources of electricity, energy and mineral resources, up to 430 megawatts of alternative energy have been added so far. Of this, 175 MW from solar home system, solar system 3-megawatt in government-owned office, solar power system 1 megawatt, solar power PV installed 11 MW, solar irrigation 2 MW, 2 MW wind power based power plant, biomass-based electricity 1 megawatt of production, 5 megawatts of electricity and biodegradable electricity Or 230 MW of power. After that the question remains how much capacity we could bring in for energy security. Identify it quickly and find ways to fix it. In order to establish the country's overall energy security and to make the country a middle income country, the concerned people will have to give more importance on this.


Atikur Rahman is Head Public Relations Officer, BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology.