New Technology and Alternative Energy Sector in Bangladesh

New Technology and Alternative Energy Sector in Bangladesh

Md. Joynal Abdin with symbolic name M.J.A KHAN

The Financial Express on January 18, 2011

Technology is the buzz word in today’s world. Technological advancement upgraded our standard of living, at the same time made us extremely dependent on it. The most important part of this technological arena is a generator. But generators need energy as input to provide output whether in factories, offices, vehicles or in our bed rooms.

Technology either for personal or family or business use cannot run without energy as input. But the sources of energy are limited to a very short list of oil, gas, coal or after value addition as electricity. The sources of energy come from a limited amount of natural reserves. The world has Coal, Oil and Gas reserve of 19.8, 8.1 and 8.1 JZ (ZJ=Zettajoule=10 J, ten to the power twenty one joule) today. Whereas, Bangladesh has reserve of 15.41 Tcf of gas, 28 million barrels of oil, and an estimated 2.5 billion tones of coal, in five coalmines discovered so far at Barapukuria, Phulbari, Jamalganj, Khalsapir and Dighipara. Today, or tomorrow, it will be finished. So what will be the scenario when total reserve of natural energy will be exhausted? Is the present energy reserve sufficient to meet our existing rapidly growing rate of demand for energy?

In such a situation we have two alternatives in hand these are:

1. Inventing such technology which will not require input to produce electricity or other forms of energies that means New Technology.

2. Searching for commercially viable alternative/renewable energy which will be available for unlimited time period with an unlimited amount. That is searching for Alternative Energy.

Global demand for primary energy will be raised up to 36 per cent between 2008 and 2035, from existing 12300 million tones of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to 16700 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) or 1.2 per cent per year on an average.

Domestically, we have demand for 4100 MW electricity from the existing industries and household consumers whereas, total maximum generation is 3609 MW as of December 19, 2010. Demand for gas is 1076 MMCDF whereas, supply is 637 MMCFD. Note that present demand for electricity is coming from the existing industries and national grid connected households. Till date about 45 per cent of rural Bangladesh is connected with the national grid that means 55 per cent of rural Bangladesh is out of the national grid. Beside that, extensive load shedding is a common phenomenon in rural Bangladesh. As a result it is not feasible to establish industries there. Thus population of urban cities is rising and creating traffic jam and many more problems.

Way forward:

There are two vital ways to overcome this energy crisis situation in Bangladesh as well as around the world. These are:

1. Inventing new technology capable to work without any forms of energy:

a. Use of energy efficient appliances can lower our daily electricity demand up to 50 per cent.

b. Government should encourage production of energy efficient appliances and discourage use and production of ordinary electric machinery and other home appliances.

c. Research and Development activities have to be continued to produce new technologies which will use low energies up to the lowest amount.

2. Searching for alternative sources of energy: Alternative energy means energy derived from nontraditional sources (e.g., solar, hydroelectric, wind etc.) that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment.

Different generations of renewable energy: renewable technology can be classified into three generations like,

First-generation technologies:

a. Biomass b. Hydroelectricity c. Geothermal power and heat.

Second-generation technologies:

a. Solar heating b. Photo-voltaic c. Wind power d. Solar thermal power stations e. Modern forms of bio-energy

Third-generation technologies:

a. New bio-energy technologies b. Ocean energy c. Enhanced geothermal systems d. Nanotechnology thin-film solar panels

Bangladesh context:

A number of NGOs including, BRAC, Grameen Shakti, RDRS, Pratyasha and others have so far installed over 7,000 solar-power units at costs ranging between Tk 12,000 to Tk 52,000 each depending on power generation capacities.

About 80,000 char people are currently using solar power units set up in over 275 char villages on the beds of the Brahmaputra, Teesta, Dharla and other rivers in Rangpur, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Nilphamari districts.

Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) has installed 900kw wind generator at Muhori dam in Feni district in 2005. PDB is now implementing 1MW wind generator at Kutubdia Island. On the other hand, LGED has installed country’s first Wind-Solar hybrid power unit at St Martin’s Island in 2006. Upcoming renewable power plants are,

1. Solar: a) RTC, Rajshahi, 1 MW. b) Rajabarihat, Rajshahi, 3 MW. c) Sharishabari, Jamalpur, 3 MW.

2. Wind power project: a) Chittagong 100-200 MW Problems with the alternative energy: 1. Higher capital cost of renewable energy technologies compared with conventional energy technologies. 2. Difficulty overcoming established energy systems, which includes difficulty introducing innovative energy systems, particularly for distributed generation such as photovoltaic, because of technological lock-in, electricity markets designed for centralised power plants, and market control by established operators.

3. Inadequate financing options for renewable energy projects, including insufficient access to affordable financing for project developers, entrepreneurs and consumers.

4. Imperfect capital markets, which includes failure to internalise all costs of conventional energy (e.g., effects of air pollution, risk of supply disruption) and failure to internalise all benefits of renewable energy (e.g., cleaner air, energy security).

5. Inadequate workforce skills and training, which includes lack of adequate scientific, technical, and manufacturing skills required for renewable energy production; lack of reliable installation, maintenance, and inspection services; and failure of the educational system to provide adequate training in new technologies.

6. Lack of government policy support, which includes the lack of policies and regulations supporting deployment of renewable energy technologies and the presence of policies and regulations hindering renewable energy development and supporting conventional energy development. Examples include, subsidies for fossil-fuels, insufficient consumer-based renewable energy incentives, government underwriting for nuclear plant accidents, and complex zoning and permitting processes for renewable energy.

7. Lack of information dissemination and consumer awareness.

8. Poor public perception of renewable energy system aesthetics.

9. Lack of stakeholder/community participation and co-operation in energy choices and renewable energy projects.

Steps to be taken:

1. Open up electricity generation for mass people without any state regulation or prior permission.

2. Ensure low cost equipments for Solar, Bio-gas and Windmill power generation.

3. Special fund to lending in Solar, Bio-gas and Windmill and making it available to the poor without any collateral.

4. Technical training for the young generation on installation, operation and troubleshooting of Solar, Bio-gas and windmill.

5. Nuclear power plant has to be established to meet our demand for power.

6. Ensure use of energy efficient appliances at home and office.

7. Ensure highest budget and proper implementation for power generation.


Published by

Md. Joynal Abdin

Development Researcher, Columnist and Author

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