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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Renewable energy needs a boost

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We are pleased to learn that Bangladesh has been number one in the world in terms of installing Solar Home Systems (SHS), with four million of the systems installed so far. Besides revealing this, a report published not long ago by the Paris-based energy think-tank REN 21 has also noted that Bangladesh is at the forefront of nations using clean stoves and biogas plants.

These are truly good achievements for the country since there has been growing awareness all over the world about environmental hazards of burning fossil fuels to generate energy. Environmentalists are rightly advocating increasing the use of renewable energy as a safer and potential alternative of fossil fuels, considering its positive environmental impact.

However, for a country like ours, prioritizing renewable energy is extremely important for some other reasons as well. Expansion of renewable energy industry can create huge employment opportunities for the unemployed people and thus can be an excellent option to boost the country's economy. Besides, by laying more emphasis on renewable energy and using domestic renewable energy sources instead of importing foreign fossil fuels, we can significantly improve our energy security and energy independence.

We are happy that the government is aware of the importance of promoting the use of renewable energy in the country. Bangladesh's topping the world in SHS installation is a testimony to the fact that the country is making progress in this respect. However, there are lots more that we need to do in this respect. This is because even after the huge surge in numbers of SHS installation in recent years, renewable energy's contribution is still merely 2.86 percent of the total power generation in the country. It is also lamentable that about 60 million people in Bangladesh have no access to electricity.

We all know the government is trying relentlessly to bring 100 percent of the country's households under the coverage of electricity by 2021 and for that purpose transmission and distribution infrastructure are being rapidly expanded.

But still there is a serious inadequacy of transmission and distribution network which is causing power outage even though the country currently has a capacity to generate more power than the actual demand. In this way, on the one hand, the country's power generation capacity cannot be utilized fully and, on the other hand, a whopping amount of money is needed to build the necessary transmission and distribution infrastructures. In this situation, extensive promotion and facilitation of renewable energy, particularly solar energy, can be of great help. This is because it is cost-effective and does not require the aforementioned costly infrastructures.

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