Solar Energy investments in Bangladesh could supplement, replace electricity grid
The major gaps in Bangladesh's energy grid and the growing energy crisis could be met by distributed solar energy systems. These have enabled electrification in many villages, where the grid will not realistically extend for another 30 years, and they can address issues of both access and supply. Bangladesh has made some moves to support the industry, but more are needed if solar energy will be a major part of an energy solution.
"Today, around 40% of the population [has access to electricity]--still one of the lowest in the world--but access often amounts to just a few hours each day...there is a significant gap between supply and demand.
The Government of Bandladesh is actively engaged in energy cirsis management. The National Energy Policy has the explicit goal of supplying the whole country with electricity by 2020. Even with energy imports and independent power producers, Bangladesh's gas reserves are quickly diminishing. For the country to fulfill its goal of universal electrification, Bangladesh needs to invest in alternative sources of energy.
The energy needs of Bangladesh are great not just because of limited supply; the issue is also mainly one of access. About 80% of the population resides in areas where electricity is akin to a dream. There are estimates that many parts of the country will still not acquire electricity from the national grid another 30 years.
Solar energy therefore has significant potential for Bangladesh. Solar power does not require sophisticated technology or know-how. It does not require fossil fuels to function, and is highly reliable. There are studies that suggest that if solar energy is adopted, as much as 10,000 megawatts daily of solar electricity can be created in the short- and medium-runs--this is equivalent to twice the total amount of electricity produced and supplied on the national grid.
The Government of Bangladesh, along with the central bank, have made strong moves to bolster its solar power investment, in general, banks have not been interested because they do not find solar technology as profitable. The task at hand now is to make solar energy investment more attractive for lenders so that this area of renewable energy can be stimulatd and grown.
"The controversy around solar technology is that it is expensive. However, that is a short-sighted point of view. The expense may be great, but if one weighs that against the potential for an energy crisis in the country, making provisions to invest in alternative energy sources does seem logical. Because most of the country still cannot access electricity, an energy crisis may have catastrophic effects on livelihoods. Recent studies by the UN and World Bank also suggest the vulnerability of developing countries to climate change--solar energy and other renewable energy sources allow for countries to plan future energy supply, as well as better prepare the country for the future effects of climate change. As Bangladesh continues to shape its future energy agenda, only time will tell to what extent the country sees alternative energy sources as a promising solution to a complex and convoluted problem."
Sources:Intellecap April 2011 pgs. 4 - 6