Mindset is the barrier | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 03, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 03, 2010

Renewable Energy Option

Mindset is the barrier


10 kilowatt solar power plant at Barkal, Rangamati. Inset Dr. Saiful Haque

The following is the first instalment of the interview of Dr. Saiful Haque, Secretary, Bangladesh Solar Energy Society.
Abu Raihan Rume and Dewan Mowdud Rahman took the interview for The Daily Star. They are both students of the Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).

Daily Star (DS): What is the present status of Renewable Energy use in Bangladesh?
Saiful Haque (SH): In Bangladesh, we are using mainly Solar, Hydro, Biogas and Biomass. Up until now, 30,000 biogas plants have been installed. Out of those, 25,000 plants are running efficiently. Others are suffering due to lack of proper maintenance. Except Dhaka, use of biogas is spreading fast all over the country. That is because it is cost-effective. Solar PV (photo-voltaic) is also becoming popular, especially in the rural households where there is no grid connection.
DS: Why have we to go for renewable source of energy? Is it not costlier than the conventional sources?
S. H.:
Though in some cases it is costlier, yet if we consider the overall impact of its negative sides, then it becomes evident that use of renewable energy is more economical and environment-friendly than the conventionally produced variety as it emits minimum amount of carbon. Extraction of renewable energy involves less complexity. Proper energy conservation is another key issue.
Another flip side of conventional sources is that we have to spend a large chunk of our hard currency to import it every year. Moreover, the global reserve of fossil fuel is depleting fast.
In the circumstances, as a third world country we have little option but to go for alternative source of energy, which, in other words, are the renewable sources, in the future.
DS: What do you think should be the steps to popularise it?
S.H.:
First of all, we have to change our mindset. Otherwise, popularisation of renewable energy in Bangladesh will remain a pipedream. We find no dearth of money when it is about erecting huge buildings, or changing car models, but when it comes to allocating some fund for installing a renewable energy system, the fund source runs dry. Recently, IPS (Instant Power Supply) or Generator have gained, popularity, though those are costly harmful for the environment.
DS: Is the government moving in the right direction towards promoting renewable energy option?
S.H.:
In 2009, the government framed a policy to promote renewable energy option all over the country. But the task involves a number of steps and a strong monitoring mechanism. In India there is a ministry for non-conventional energy. We urged the government to create a similar ministry in Bangladesh. The government, too, has agreed to develop an authority, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA).
The renewable energy sector should be provided with government subsidy, as it is the case with Agriculture and Education. For Renewable Energy-based power system, the battery involves 40% of the cost. So, the government should reduce the import tax on battery. The business people, on the other hand, need to refrain from creating a syndicate with the motive of making a windfall gain out of it. The government needs to monitor all these issues in earnest.TO BE CONTINUED

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