It is heartening to learn that the country's largest solar park that started operating in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf last September, has been benefitting over 8 lakh people and thousands of small to medium businesses in Teknaf and Ukhia upazila. This 20 megawatt on-grid park is the first of its kind that has been set up to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.
The government has a vision to produce 10 percent of its total energy from clean energy sources by 2021. As solar power is environment-friendly and the cost of generating it is low, expanding the use of solar power should be prioritised. Solar-based initiatives such as solar irrigation, mini-grids, rooftop-based solar home systems and solar power plants should be set up all across the country.
Currently, approximately 41 million people (25 percent of the population) in Bangladesh have no access to electricity. As electrification in the remote areas through grid expansion is challenging and costly, focus should be on using solar power in these areas. The government has already taken initiatives to set up solar home systems in many rural areas with much success. According to a report, 17 million Bangladeshis use solar home systems, making it the country with the second highest number of people who avail the system after India.
Renewable energy currently makes up only 2.5 percent of total electricity generation in the country, according to a study of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority. If that has to increase to 10 percent by 2021, the government should take various encouraging initiatives including allowing tax and VAT-free import of the machinery that is needed for green energy production.