Energy security a national concern
Energy efficiency and implementation of a well-coordinated national energy policy are key to Bangladesh achieving universal energy target of sustainable development goals, said leading energy experts at a discussion in the capital yesterday.
“The SDG goal of universal access to power would not be achievable without implementation of a consistent national energy policy,” said Dr M Asaduzzaman, former research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
With solar and wind energy efforts yielding no significant results, biomass and energy efficiency are the vital options for Bangladesh to focus on to achieve the energy goal, said Dr Ijaz Hossain, a professor of chemical engineering at Buet.
Solar energy could not make much headway due to land constraints and expensive installation, he said, at the discussion on "International financial institutions' investment on energy in Bangladesh: opportunities and challenges" jointly organised by The Daily Star and Oxfam at The Daily Star Centre in Dhaka.
Against this backdrop, import of hydro electricity through Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal network remains an important solution for the country's increasing energy demand, he said.
Among four sources of renewable energy -- solar, wind, hydro and oceanic surge -- solar panels are still not affordable for the common people, said Golam Safiuddin, additional secretary to energy and mineral resources division. It requires three acres of land for one megawatt solar energy, an option not viable in a land-constrained country, he said.
Bangladesh has set a target officially to generate 10 percent or 2,400 MW of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and committed to achieving universal access to electricity by 2021, said Siddique Zobair, member of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority.
To achieve the goal of universal access to energy, more energy efficiency is the answer, he said, adding that the country will need 40,000 MW electricity by the year 2030 but 8,000 of it can be saved by efficiency in production and consumption pattern.
As Bangladesh is moving towards achieving the status of middle-income country by 2021 and high-income by 2041, meeting the growing needs for power remains a foremost challenge, the speakers were of the view.
Currently, 62 percent of 163 million people of the country have access to electricity and only 10 percent have access to clean cooking system.
The energy security is a national concern in view of the reality that the domestic gas supply for power generation will run out by 2025 and it will be dependent on imported petroleum, they said.
At present, the country produces 64 percent electricity with natural gas, 25 percent with petroleum, two percent with coal and less than 4 percent with renewable sources.
The Sustainable Development Goal 7 requires universal energy access by 2030.
Prof Sharmind Nilormi of economics at Jahangirnagar University; Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue; Asian Development Bank Country Director Manmohan Parkash; Sanjay Srivastava, programme leader of World Bank Bangladesh, among others, also spoke at the programme. Oxfam Programme Director MB Akhter moderated the discussion.