Alternative Energy Bangladesh: Reaching Where the Grid Can’t

[Via Alternative Energy Blog]

Bangladesh is experiencing a severe energy delivery crisis. The Financial Express of Bangladesh says load shedding and suspension of production in industrial zones due to low gas pressure is a daily occurrence. the Government is turning to solar energy to remedy the shortfall.

Access to electricity in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world. The coverage stands around 30 per cent of the total population. However, the rural areas of Bangladesh, where nearly 80 per cent of the population live, only have about 10% coverage.

Larger energy supplies and greater efficiency of energy use are needed to meet the needs of a growing population. As the conventional grid-fed electricity can only cover 15 per cent of total households, tapping different sources of alternative energy can be used for the benefit of the people.

The government wants to electrify the whole country by the year 2020. But grid expansion is not a viable option for most parts of Bangladesh in the foreseeable future mainly due to inaccessibility and low consumer density. There are many areas in the country where electricity will not reach in the next 30 years. Some experts say the current rate of electrification will take decades to provide access the whole country. In contrast, sufficient sunshine and wind-speed exist for promotion of alternative energy in Bangladesh.

Of all the options, solar energy is the easiest and most viable option. Solar energy’s attributes of needing no fuel, high durability and reliability and being able to operate for prolonged periods without maintenance make it economical for all types of remote applications.

Private businesses have started introducing solar thermal and photovoltaic systems in rural areas.

As the Rural Electrification Board has a countrywide network through its cooperatives, it can take a leading role in electrifying rural Bangladesh instead of keeping it dependent on the Power Development Board which provides it with gas-based electricity.

It has become increasingly clear that, for the development of alternative energy in Bangladesh, the funding windows of non-government and private sources as well as financial and development institutions should be augmented. Furthermore, innovative new financing opportunities including micro-financing may be utilized to attract private capital to supplement the energy deficiencies in rural areas and thus to fulfill the aspirations of the Bangladeshi poor.

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