Bangladesh’s aspiration to achieve SDG 7 by 2030 is contingent on the steady growth of clean energy, perhaps this would be the most formidable challenge
Bangladesh has a national target of increasing the share of renewable energy by 20 percent of total energy consumption within 2030.
However, according to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) tracker, only 3.15 percent of the total energy was produced by renewable energy sources till 2018. According to Sustainable & Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), the share of renewable energy was 3.25 percent including off-grid in 2019.
The SDG goal number seven is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Under this goal, Bangladesh prioritizes two targets:
1. Ensure access to electricity for 100 percent population
2. Increase renewable energy share in total final energy consumption to 10 percent
Bangladesh is quite ahead in terms of the first target, according to the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), about 95 percent of people have access to electricity.
Whereas, in the case of the second target, the country is hugely lagging behind. Bangladesh's priority target says to achieve 20 percent renewable energy share of total consumption. Sadly, it only consumes 3.25 percent renewable energy of total consumption including off-grid.
Energy Source of Bangladesh
Bangladesh largely depends on natural gas. In the national grid, around 68.84 percent of energy production capacity is from natural gas and 19.07 percent are from liquid fuel.
Only 1.03 percent comes from hydro and 0.165 percent comes from solar sources.
Renewable Energy Source
Bangladesh mostly started emphasising on solar power in recent years, and 61.5 percent renewable energy has been measured from solar sources. Currently, solar power production capacity is 393MW including off-grid.
In 2019, about 26.61MW of renewable energy was installed on-grid grid and 18.261MW was installed off-grid. Both of those energy sources were solar.
Hydropower has been considered as the second-highest renewable source of power in terms of generation capacity. Sadly, since 1988 no hydropower plant was established in Bangladesh. The only hydro power-plant "Karnafuli Hydro Power Station" has the capacity of 230MW.
Except, Feni Wind Power Plant, since 2006, Bangladesh has not been able to run any other on-grid wind power plant, though there are four ongoing wind power projects.
Currently, very little electricity is produced from bio-gas and bio-mass, but those are off-grid.
Disappointing Wind Energy
The government has targeted to generate 1370MW of electricity from wind energy by 2021. To achieve the target, the government started wind resource mapping in nine places. Data was collected, but any other progress is yet to be observed.
Besides the on-grid plant, there are two other off-grid wind power plants in Kutubdia of Cox's Bazar. These plants have been operating before the wind mapping projects were launched.
There are four other on-grid projects including the Feni Wind Power Plant with target capacity of 72.9MW. The other two were supposed to be operating by 2019 but those are still under the planning phase.
Another wind power plant in Patuakhali is supposed to star operation by 2022.
Off-Grid Dominates On-Grid
While solar energy is dominating renewable energy sources, most of the power is from off-grid. Around 313.55MW solar energy generation capacity is off-grid, compared to 80.44MW on-grid energy generation capacity.
Without Karnafuli Hydro Power Station of 1988, the total on-grid capacity of renewable energy is only 81.34MW, while off-grid energy capacity is 316.58MW.
In the last ten years, only solar renewable on-grid energy has been added to the national grid.
With a very low amount of on-grid generation capacity, it is ironic to set a high target of renewable energy share of total consumption.
Future projects suggest that total amount of renewable energy use will be increased, however the share of renewable energy of total consumption may not be improved. There are some big project which will increase renewable energy such as the 500 MW solar energy programme, 1 MW Grid Connected Power Plant Based on Municipal Solid Waste and 4 wind power projects.
However, the large projects are not from renewable energy sources such as the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, 2x660 MW Moitri Super Thermal Power Project (Rampal), Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project.
Some small non-renewable power projects – such as the eight under construction gas and LNG power plants – will have 1,609 MW capacity, and five projects – still under the planning phase – will have 8,750MW capacity.
Meanwhile, 10 coal power plants – with 9649 MW capacity – are under construction, and 8 with 9,620MW capacity are under the planning phase. These plants will have a higher capacity than ongoing renewable power projects.
It is clear that renewable energy is losing the race. The renewable energy source can produce in an arithmetic rate but non-renewable energy power sources can produce in geometric rates. Without adopting new sources or technology, it is a very hard path to reach the target.
In this position, considering the current progress and future projects, setting 20 percent energy share from renewable sources of total consumption seems highly ambitious.