Nasrul Hamid, State Minister for Power and Energy: Globally, renewable energy and energy efficiency promotion activities is in progress. In many countries it has become cost-effective. I had interaction with the Green Grid Alliance comprising of members of parliament. They are thinking of installing plants in deserts like Sahara, India's Rajasthan and in China for harnessing solar power with connectivity through a superhighway. Changes in technology, which used to occur in ten years, are now taking place everyday. Bangladesh might also be connected through the Green Grid Alliance under their plan. This will be cost effective and that is carbon-negative. This will abandon need of billions dollar investment in power production; building coal terminals and plants; and lots of risks are there. Now, we are going to set up a $2 billion 1,300 megawatt project, for which we do not have the efficient manpower and management capacity. But now, you can get power through the global connectivity like that of Internet.
We have to think of taking the global pace in power generation. Of course, we will get aligned with the global policy; but our requirement will get the priority. We first find out our capacity, reach the level of base-load requirement and then gradually expand the area of power generation. The second priority is how to ensure sustainable energy and energy efficiency. The regional power connectivity has now come in the forefront. If we can become part of regional power grid like those in Europe; if ours conforms with the cross-border policy of the regional countries; then it will be a different picture.
The government is giving billions of taka as subsidy in the area of renewable energy through different financial institutions including IDCOL. But, how long it will be offering the subsidy? We can team-up with Nepal and Bhutan to take 5,000 MW of hydro-power; and this will give a base-load of 5,000MW, which is a clean energy. Bangladesh is trying to optimize the productive use of sunshine though our solar irradiance moderate.
Our per capita power consumption is roughly 380 kilowatt, it is fur behind than of a middle-income country. SREDA is going to pilot LED street lighting Tungipara Municipality area in Gopalgonj with assistance of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), India. According to proposals an EESL will replace the conventional bulb with LED bulb; and the cost of installation will realize from the saving of energy. If it goes well, we will replicate the method in other upazilas. We have also started producing one megawatt of power from waste.
Anwarul Islam Sikder ndc, Chairman SREDA and Additional Secretary: SREDA was established in May 2014, which has been seen as the government farsightedness in energy sustainability. In the 2010-21 perspective plan the power production from renewable energy was set at 3 percent in 2020; but it has now been targeted at 10 percent of the total production. We will save 15 percent of energy by 2021 and 20 percent by 2030. The targets can be achieved because the government has given stress on production of renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation. At the moment, production of 1,200MW of electricity is under process from solar power. In the next two year time, every government offices will have roof-top solar panels. The government is providing funds for green financing and taking fiscal measures for ensuring renewable energy and energy efficiency. About 500MW of power is now being produced from the renewable energy. There is a target for production of 500MW from solar power; and we are making a progress.
A.R. Khan, ex-chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission: We need to have standardization. Our factories and machineries have no standardization. Some power plants have been set up by the government, some by private companies and some are brought in on lease. But the quality of those leased plants is not known and they remain inoperative. The companies blame bad quality oil for failure. Also, there are power plants whose efficiency is 20/25 percent. Some claim that the combined cycle – the smart system –has 62 percent efficiency. But in reality it is 46 percent. This means lots of heat are emitting into the air. We can capture and use it for production of electricity. There should be an energy audit; and without this energy efficiency is unthinkable. It should be immediately done. If the minister does something on pre-paid meter and standardization it would be of great help.
Siddique Zobair, Member, Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA): Our GDP growth was at 7.11 percent in 2015-16. We are moving towards the goals of vision 2021. Industries and Services sectors contribute more to achieve this height compare to previous fiscal year. Capital machinery import grew at more than 40 percent. This means, we are gradually moving towards energy intense economy. It will be difficult to maintain this growth rate if we fail to ensure primary energy supply. Bangladesh has unique potentials to face any challenge natural or economic. World economic recession could not affect our economic development. In 2009 the power generation capacity was below 5,000MW; due to firm commitment of this government with seven years generation capacity reached to 15000 MW. Due to shortage of gas we had to divers primary energy mix for power generation. As a result contribution of natural gas for power generation came down to 63 percent against 93 percent in 2009. Bangladesh is now moving towards a low-cost conventional energy under medium and long term measures. Renewable energy might not be a mainstream energy in Bangladesh at least for next few years. But it can contribute significantly to ease the crisis of conventional energy.
There are risks in import of fuel – price sensibility and supply constraint – raising the economic vulnerability. In 1997, when crude oil prices shot up our economy suffered. We need to have options in place to thwart the risks of price sensibility and supply constraint in fuel import. The remedy is renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will minimize cost and protect environment. Now a day Energy Efficiency treated as first fuel.
Mohammad Alauddin, Joint Secretary, Power Division: Initially, the energy efficiency will be less expensive than the renewable energy. The government has established an energy research council. It will work on innovative ideas. Such as, what amount of output of solar power will contribute to the national grid? The council, a dedicated agency, will help build capacity. A provision on use of renewable energy has been incorporated in the building code. In terms of coverage, it is a huge 11 percent of the total population. The renewable energy projects, placed in red category, should get quick clearance from the environment department. In case of renewable energy projects, the PPA should be standardized. So that, it gives more comfort to the sponsors. Solar mini-grid cost is less than the solar home systems. Inverter used in mini-grid system has been hugely taxed. This must be reduced.
Selim Mahmud, Chairman, BERC Tribunal: The regulatory commission has the responsibility of regulating the power and energy market. Similarly, SREDA has also some regularity responsibilities with respect to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Since its inception in 2003, we have formulated only nine regulations against India's 125 during the same time. BERC has failed to carry out its responsibilities successfully for lack of regulations. Here, the ministry is involved in framing regulations on the basis of approvals. Everywhere, it is the regulatory body that formulates regulations. There are 3,500 MW capacity licensed captive generators. If compulsory co-generation is commenced the efficiency will grow in a big way; and that will be equivalent to 1,000 MW. BERC can attach conditions or give directives asking the private power companies to produce renewable energy alongside. The consumers can also be asked to buy renewable energy to meet part of their requirements.
Mahmood Malik, CEO, IDCOL: There should be an optimal use of energy in a country of limited resources. IDCOL, a government owned entity, is the pioneer as well as the market leader in terms of promoting and developing renewable energy technologies in off-grid areas. IDCOL solar home programme is regarded as the largest off-grid solar home programmein the world. Under the programme, we have been able to offer more than 40 million peoplean access to electricity through installation of four million home systems. IDCOL has recently taken up solar irrigation pump and solar mini-grid projects, where use of super efficient equipment is pre-requisite for successful implementation. IDCOL has financed 18 mini-grid projects, of which seven are in operation and the rest are under construction.
IDCOL is in process to finance installation of energy efficient equipment in industries like textiles and readymade garments, chemical fertilizers, paper, glass, cement, clinker grinding etc.
Prof. Dr. Ijaz Hossain, BUET: There is a government policy of generating 10 percent of the electricity from the solar power by 2020. People have been encouraged and they are becoming involved. If you do the cost-effectiveness comparison between renewable energy and conventional energy, and at the same time promote the renewable energy; then it will never happen in Bangladesh. It has never happened in any country in the world. Renewable energy can be competitive in a limited way. I want to get commitments from the government on renewable energy.
Why are we offering most expensive unreliable renewable energy to the poor people? Many entrepreneurs have gone for renewable energy projects without the government support; and now they are repenting. The renewable energy is rolling back in Bangladesh. The country is severely lagging behind most countries in developing renewable energy. Now, the government is saying that the people are not accepting it. There must be something wrong. We have heard that solar projects are taken up to grab land. We are sending proposal on feed-in-tariff to the government. Developing renewable energy is a commitment. In association with the BERC we have prepared a document; and very soon it will be sent to your table. Under the feed-in-tariff generation of electricity from 100 kilowatt to 5 megawatt will be allowed.
Prof. Dr Saiful Huque, Director, Institute of Energy: The institute is designed to train manpower for energy sector. There are masters, PhD and other courses; five batches have already passed out. Evening courses have been introduced. A maximum 45 enrolled in power department. We are carrying out researches. We have developed controller card, a device needed in solar irrigation. Our inspiration is that the use of renewable energy has surpassed the coal. We need to install mini-grid, micro-grid and solar panel for renewable energy. Overseas investors are showing interest. As we have resources we have to develop technology locally.
Prof. Dr M Rezwan Khan, Vice-Chancellor of United International University: If Bangladesh produces 10,000MW of power and there comes a five-percent efficiency change equivalent to 500MW, it will be a big amount. Now, how can we achieve. If we talk about efficiency then we should touch upon the generation side. PDB's current average generation efficiency is 30 percent. Loss at transmission and distribution is important. The loss should not exceed 7/8 percent. It is still, I believe, ranges between 12 and 15 percent. Here, we can save some energy.
We can also save energy if we ensure efficiency at the consumers' end. If we can levy lower tax on energy efficiency home appliances it will help save energy.
The output may fluctuate in case of solar power as it will depend on the availability of sunshine. Stability factor is important here. Now, the question is where we will be able to add solar power equivalent to 20/25 percent of the total production to the system; unless, we must go for a study on stability factor, which is important.
Dipal Chandra Barua, President of Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association: Bangladesh has set milestone in many areas, such as the garments, pharmaceuticals. In energy sector, it has four million solar home systems. The government has been giving incentives in this sector, which is growing. Fifteen percent of the population is now using solar systems, which is now a household name in Bangladesh. In Africa, the World Bank had introduced solar lantern replacing kerosene under its energy access policy. But after 10-15 years it has taken a decision to do away with the lantern system, and instead introduced the solar home systems. The Bangladesh model, lauded world over, will be replicated in 14 countries.
My suggestion is that the quality of LED should be improved to ensure energy efficiency. If we can save 2000 MW we must take up the LED system to lessen the burden of debt, caused for taking loan to produce similar amount of power. It should be made mandatory that all the organizations must have the LED in place over the next five years. We should try to get a slice of the global green fund. For this, we have to build our capacity and efficiency. We should take up block projects in Dhaka and Chittagong for roof-top solar energy on experimental basis. Bangladesh could be solar national if it can bring 50/60 percent people under the systems. SREDA should be strengthened to carry forward the revolution. There should be roadmap to reach the green energy in all spheres.
Asma Huque, MD of Prakaushuli Sangsad Ltd: Renewable energy will become a mainstream energy and fossil fuel an alternative after 40/50 years with the advancement of technology. There should be a master plan for renewable resources development. This will help us know the availability of resources in the area and ways for utilization.
Under a policy the government can waive duty on import of equipment, which will help the authorities earn revenue from a rising business. We want a clear policy on facilities for the private entrepreneurs. Renewable energy should be given proper importance and the interest of the investors should be protected. It is regrettable that the solar energy project has been placed in red category.
Mohammad Mostaque Ahmed MD, JECR: We have set up 46 irrigation pumps and three mini-grids – one in Kutubdia and two in Patuakhali. There are three gaps existing in the renewable energy area – conceptual gap, technological gap and operational gap.
The conceptual gap is where developments happen at policy level; but many do not know that there is a dearth in awareness; and the concerned departments and ministries are not aware of the policies. Now, there is need for holding an inter-ministerial meeting, where issues like VAT, tax and installation of mini-grid can be discussed. The scarcity of land is a big problem. It takes a lingering process in land acquisition as the documents of the land owners are not updated. When we approached to the government to set up a 5MW power plant in Patgram enclave the concerned department asked us to come with proposal on at least 15/20MW plant. Here, there is a conceptual gap. There is a land scarcity in the area; and so, we should take up only 2 to 5MW capacity plant.
As regards to the operational gap there exists a lack of coherence between the financial modeling and practice. Previously, we used to get grants; and now, it has been stopped, which is affecting the solar power programme. This has also led to imports of low quality materials.
Arif Mohammad Faisal,Program Specialist (Environment Sustainability and Energy), UNDP: The UNDP has a global Programme of energy for all to meet SDG 7. Environmental friendly and modern energy technologies are essential to economic, environmental, and social development—the three pillars of sustainable development. As part of south-south cooperation, UNDP Bangladesh Country Office is closely working with Korea and China for promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy welfare. The difference between the energy consumption by the rural poor and the urban rich is huge. It implies that we have not worked for energy security and energy welfare of poor people in Bangladesh. There is scope for working in that area. One who used to light kerosene lamp perhaps now has two to three power lamp, fans and black-and-white TV. We have now designed global policy about how we can extend support to this section of people. SREDA has to expand its work with more human and financial resource. It basically concentrates on energy saving and efficiency. There is scope for work in transport and industrial sector. In Bangladesh, public transports can be run by bio-gas. If we want to ensure energy security, saving and energy welfare then we will have to bring changes in lifestyle. We normally say that the renewable energy is expensive; but we seldom calculate the social and environmental cost for using energy from the conventional energy sources. Cost of producing energy from renewables is gradually decreasing. Standardisation and labeling of LED and other energy efficient appliances is necessary in Bangladesh for promoting quality energy products and protecting environment.
Md Monwar Hasan Khan, Project Manager, SREPGen Project: The energy security remains the vital. In this respect the renewable energy in many countries is contributing to energy security. They have set ambitious targets. The SREDA will consider the suggestions put forward here.
Selim S H Chowdhury, The Daily Star: We use electricity in all spheres of our life. We, the general consumers, do not know much about the technical aspects of electricity. If the consumers are made aware of these matters they will be supportive of new technology. There should be a dedicated energy website, which can invite public debate on various energy issues. Pre-paid electric meter should be introduced to free consumers from hassle.
Arun Karmakar, Prothom Alo: In the constitution, the Bangladesh government is pledge-bound to ensure electricity for all, which is unique in the world. The government has to generate enough power by any means. The government, of course, is trying to fulfill through solar systems and in off-grid areas and installation of mini-grids. We have to speed up the power generation from renewable, conventional and nuclear projects.
* Find out our capacity, reach the level of base-load requirement and then gradually expand the area of power generation.
* Become part of regional power grid like those in Europe; if ours conforms with the cross-border policy of the regional countries;
* Should be optimal use of energy in a country of limited resources. If we can levy lower tax on energy efficiency home appliances it will help save energy.
* In case of renewable energy projects, the PPA should be standardized.
* Inverter used in mini-grid system has been hugely taxed. This must be reduced.
* The quality of LED should be improved to ensure energy efficiency.
* We should try to get a slice of the global green fund.
* We should take up block projects in Dhaka and Chittagong for roof-top solar energy on experimental basis.
* SREDA has to expand its work with more human and financial resource.
* Renewable energy should be given proper importance and the interest of the investors should be protected.
* There should be an energy on pre-paid meter and standardization consumers can also be asked to buy renewable energy to meet part of their requirements.
* Need for holding an inter-ministerial meeting, where issues like VAT, tax and installation of mini-grid can be discussed.
* Speed up the power generation from renewable, conventional and nuclear projects.