The government plans to introduce feed-in-tariff shortly to boost production of electricity from renewable sources in a bid to ensure energy security and cut carbon emission.
Feed-in-tariff is a policy designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies such as solar, biomass, hydropower and wind by providing tariff above the retail rate of electricity to producers. Under FIT, the state offers long-term contracts to producers.
“We will go for feed-in-tariff,” said State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid at a discussion on renewable energy and energy efficiency at The Daily Star Centre in Dhaka saturday.
The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority and The Daily Star jointly organised the discussion with support from the United Nations Development Programme.
The minister, however, did not mention the timeframe, but officials said a draft law on FIT has been sent to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission.
The government is pushing for prepaid meters and has prepared an action plan for introducing energy auditing for all industries, Hamid said.
In terms of energy, the contribution of renewable energy, excluding hydro, is less than 1 percent, said Ijaz Hossain, a professor at the department of chemical engineering of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
The government has set a target to produce 10 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
At present, individual households have solar panels for consumption, he said. Some private companies earlier signed agreements to produce and sell renewable energy to the government but those commitments have not materialised yet.
The FIT law will encourage numerous entrepreneurs to invest in renewable energy, he said. Power with capacity between 100 kilowatts and 5 megawatts could be produced and the electricity will be added to the national grid and sold at prices that ensure producers’ profits.
There are many countries that are producing 20 percent to 30 percent of their total electricity from renewable sources under the FIT arrangement, according to Hossain. Experts said achieving the goal of 10 percent power from renewable resources by 2020 is nearly impossible given the current circumstances: the sales of solar home systems have slowed in recent times.
Bangladesh’s economic growth, which was 7.11 percent last fiscal year, would require huge power generation, said SREDA Member Siddique Zobair.
The country’s power generation is mostly dependent on local gas that is dwindling fast and imported oil.
For that reason, renewable energy and energy efficiency are the major areas that the country needs to improve on to minimise the vulnerability of the energy sector.
The use of energy-efficient bulbs, controlling air-conditioners, maintaining boilers in industries, minor retrofitting of machinery and training people on such issues can save energy, Zobair added.
AR Khan, a former chairman of the BERC, suggested energy auditing and introduction of prepaid meters to improve governance in the power management.
Rezwan Khan, vice-chancellor of United International University, called for taxation and policies that encourage the use of energy-efficient appliances.
Power Division Joint Secretary Mohammad Alauddin urged the environment department to ease the certification process for renewable power projects.
Renewable energy actually turns out to be cheaper than fossil fuel-based energy if environmental and social costs are considered, said UNDP Programme Specialist Arif M Faisal. As Bangladesh focuses on adaptation to climate change, there are funds that the country can access and utilise for implementing projects that will help mitigate the impacts of global warming, he added.
Anwarul Islam Sikder, chairman of the SREDA; Salim Mahmud, chairman of the Arbitration Tribunal at the BERC; Saiful Haque, director of the Institute of Energy at Dhaka University; and Mahmood Malik, chief executive officer of Infrastructure Development Company Ltd, also spoke.
Shamim Ahmed, a public health expert, moderated the programme.
Dipal Chandra Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association; Mostaq Ahmmed, CEO of Green Housing and Energy Ltd; and Asma Huque, managing director of Prokaushali Sangsad Ltd, also attended the discussion.