Energy Poverty in Bangladesh
Bangladesh recently transitioned from a lower-income country to a lower-middle-income country as per the World Bank’s GDP per capita benchmark. Bangladesh’s Global Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate went from 6.5% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2017.

The demand for electricity rose, as a result, thrusting the government into focusing on eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. However, misuse and improper management of energy contributed to the shortage of electricity, and load shedding became a daily phenomenon. Here are some additional facts about energy poverty in the country.

Facts About Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

Only around 59.6% of the people in Bangladesh have access to electricity with 180 kilowatt-hours of energy per capita in use, which is very low in comparison to other countries. Rural areas tend to suffer more as they face more load shedding than urban areas.

Bangladesh heavily relies on natural gas and furnace oil, followed by coal, for electricity generation. As of February 2017, the installed power capacity shows the reliance on natural gas is 62%.

This raises concerns over energy security due to the increasing fuel imports and high dependence on coal and gas for electricity generation. Yet, the country has been failing to meet its electricity demand. Therefore, it is trying to focus on meeting its energy needs and providing access to electricity all over the country.

Progress in Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

In September 2018, there was significant progress in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh when the country managed to meet its energy production target of 20,000 MW. Bangladesh also set a new target of generating 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.

As of 2018, the number of power plants amounted to 108, a significant increase from the 27 power plants in 2009. Bangladesh ranked 90th among 115 nations on the global Energy Transition Index (ETI) which benchmarks countries on how well they balance their energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.

Bangladesh made progress due to a strong political commitment, a stable policy regime, the use of grid expansion and generation sources and an investment-friendly environment in the infrastructure sector.

Some Upcoming Projects for Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

  • Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant – Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project, is being constructed in Rooppur, a remote village on the western side of Bangladesh in the Pabna District. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) implemented the project under the Ministry of Science & Technology. The project is a part of an intergovernmental agreement between Bangladesh and Russia. The nuclear power plant of 2,400 MW capacity, with two reactors of 1,200 MW each, is one of the major efforts in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. The project’s expected completion is by 2024.
  • Matarbari Coal Power Plant – The 1,200 MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant project, which the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd (CPGCBL) implemented and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency assisted, will use imported coal to generate power. The plant will have two units, each having a production capacity of 600 MW. The project will also include a deep seaport.
  • Rampal Thermal Power Plant – This 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant in the Bagerhat district of Khulna is a joint venture between India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board. Expectations have determined that this will be the country’s largest power plant.

Expansion of Renewable Energy

On March 1, 2019, the World Bank approved $185 million to add up to 310 MW renewable energy generation capacity and also to mobilize around $212 million from the private sector, commercial banks, and other sources to meet the increasing demand for electricity. The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project in Bangladesh by the World Bank will build the first 50 MW segment of a large solar panel energy park in the Feni district. This project should provide better access to clean energy and cut emissions by an equivalent of 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

With the rapid economic growth in the country, Bangladesh has made some notable progress in addressing its growing electricity demand. Through increased diversification of its energy mix and more ambitious projects on the way, energy poverty in Bangladesh should reduce.

Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Flickr