Energy conservation law a must for an efficient sector: experts
Bangladesh must pass an energy conservation act to ensure energy efficiency to turnaround the country's bleak energy scenario, said an expert yesterday.
"Without an energy conservation act and the Sustainable Energy Development Agency (SEDA), we can achieve absolutely nothing on energy efficiency," said Dr Ijaz Hossain, a professor of the chemical engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
He spoke at a roundtable on "Energy efficiency in buildings" at the Cirdap auditorium in the city. The Energy and Power, an energy magazine, organised the programme in association with the German agency for international cooperation GIZ.
Terming the country's energy efficiency scenario very dismal, Hossain said: "In a seminar [when the present government came to power three years ago], I told the government where to intervene."
"But after three years, I can say that nothing has happened. But India has moved ahead of Bangladesh by 10 years by enforcing an energy conservation act."
"We have already submitted a report to the government on the issue. The SEDA is also supposed to be passed. Three years have passed, but the act has not been passed," he informed.
He said there are SEDA type organisations in many countries, which talk about the issue and hold talks with different stakeholders. "I don't know why it is not being passed in Bangladesh," he regretted.
The expert said the country is running with inefficient power plants. He alleged that the authorities are hiding the real system loss in the power sector in a new way.
"Here the system loss is calculated in terms of billing, not in terms of kilowatt-hour we consume. Our real picture is bleak. I agree that the system loss has reduced, but I still think the amount is too high."
Hossain said Bangladesh has inefficient power plants, fertiliser plants and buildings and the power demand projection is prepared taking them into consideration.
"The government says the country will need 30,000 megawatt of electricity by 2030. But I say if we can use conservation, renewable energy and make the plants efficient then we will be able to bring the demand down to 10,000MW," Hossain projected.
"It means that we do not need to set up power plants to produce another 10,000MW of electricity, if we can control our demand through energy efficiency," he further opined.
He said no governments would be able to meet the whole energy demand of the country, as Bangladesh is increasingly becoming an energy importing nation.
"If we cannot use our own resources like coal and do not immediately start exploring resources in the new maritime boundary, we will never be able to be self-sufficient in energy," Hosain warned.
Hossain said the talk of energy efficiency of a building should include residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
"We do not talk much about industrial buildings, but they are the biggest source of energy consumption. We can bring energy efficiency to them."
He said the government should give special heed to the cooling systems, as its load has become a monster for Bangladesh.
"Last year, we heard that cooling accounted for 1,800MW of electricity as per estimation of the Power Development Board. This year it will go up to 2,000MW against our production of 6,000MW," Hossain added.
"We need to conduct research on cooling to find out where we can reduce its consumption. People's income is increasing so there will be a lot of cooling system in households. Efficient technology is available and we should go for that."
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, said they are working to establish an energy research council to the likes of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council to create a platform for research.
He said the government plans to introduce smart-grid for households to reduce electricity consumption.
Zebun Nasreen Ahmed, head of architecture of Buet, said there is a lot to do with ensuring energy efficiency of buildings as they account for 40 percent of all energy consumption.
She said energy efficiency of buildings should get priority before the country moves for renewable energy.
She urged the government to promote light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which are four times more efficient and durable than the compact fluorescent lights (CFL) that the country is currently advocating for.
"The LEDs are safe, long-lasting and very energy efficient and 50 to 100 times longer life than incandescent bulbs. We need to do research so that we can make LEDs cheaper," she said.
The architect said greener roof is not all about water conservation. "It can keep the whole building cool too."
She said although photovoltaics are expensive they are appropriate because of high solar input in Bangladesh.
Islam Sharif, chief executive officer of Infrastructure Development Company Ltd, said having energy efficiency buildings is also a good business.
Khursheed Ul Islam, senior adviser to GIZ, said the country needs to think whether it is time to think about Green Building Code.
Saiful Huque, coordinator of Renewable Energy Research Centre of Dhaka University, said the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha should make appointment of a solar specialist mandatory for constructing a building.
Shireen Kamal Sayeed, a former assistant country director of United Nations Development Programme, said the authorities should not only look at energy efficiency issue in urban areas, but also in rural areas, as there is rapid urbanisation in the countryside.
Nurul Aktar, a director of Energypac, said new buildings are installing solar system negligently just to comply with the government order for obtaining power connection.
The real estate sector is not interested about solar system, he said, adding that there has to be a system that ensures a win-win situation.
He said the government can think of promoting the uses of LEDs in posh areas instead of across the country. "If it is made mandatory for all, low-quality products will flood the market."
Rakibul Islam, a manager of Grameen Skakti, said the government should withdraw all duties levied on solar products to make them cheaper.