Solar and Wind Power Potential in Bangladesh

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Solar and Wind Power Potential in Bangladesh

15 July 2021 – by Viktor Tachev

Global Climate Scope ranks Bangladesh in the 41st position from all observed markets in terms of attractiveness for renewable energy investments. The segment the country is lacking most is experience. Considering the stable fundamentals and the significant opportunities, however, the future of renewable energy in Bangladesh looks bright. And what is also important – there are high-potential investment opportunities. The country’s current situation leaves investors in its renewable energy transition in the perfect position to be rewarded once the boom starts.

The State of Renewable Energy in Bangladesh in 2021

The installed renewable energy capacity is 650.53 MW (solar energy – 416 MW and hydropower – 230 MW). The total figure was up from 579 MW in 2018. The jump isn’t significant, but it marks a trend for what’s coming next.

Even though solar power dominates the renewable energy mix of Bangladesh, wind, for now, remains at near-zero values.

While the Bangladesh government targets 10% renewables in the total energy mix by the end of 2021, the figure at the moment is only 3%.

Image of current renewable energy share and future forecasts in Bangladesh, SREDA and SDG Tracker, published in TBS News
Current renewable energy share and future forecasts in Bangladesh, SREDA and SDG Tracker, published in TBS News

Renewable Energy Sources Such as Solar Energy and Wind Power Potential in Bangladesh

While renewable energy’s share in the country’s power mix remains negligibly low, there is massive potential for solar and wind power in electricity generation. A report on the renewables technical capacity found that Bangladesh could deploy up to 156 GW of utility-scale solar and 150 GW of wind.

Solar power potential in Bangladesh

According to estimations, Bangladesh receives considerable amounts of solar radiation with 1,900 kWh/m2 per year. Daily, this figure translates to 4 to 6.5 kWh/m2.

Recently, the government issued a National Solar Energy Roadmap (SREDA) draft. It recommends a new solar target to address the sluggish clean energy progress. The aim is to have up to 40 GWs by 2041, with 40% coming from rooftop solar. If the government prioritizes the accelerated action plan, by 2041, Bangladesh can have solar energy accountable for 50% of the installed capacity.

Solar panels
Rooftop solar, photo by Jeroen van de Water on Unsplash

Target Electricity Generation and Renewable Energy Goals

Under a business-as-usual scenario, the country can have 8 GW of solar power capacity. The target in the medium scenario is 25 GW.

However, Bangladesh’s potential and renewable energy technology are enough to push officials to pursue the more ambitious plans. Estimations reveal that 5 GWs of solar power systems could be installed on garment, textiles, and other industrial building rooftops. A further 2 GWs can be added on government buildings’ rooftops.

Electricity Generation in Floating Solar Panels

With an estimated 1,500 km2 of ponds, Bangladesh has immense potential for floating solar. According to estimations, even utilizing only one-third of the ponds for solar installations can generate 15 GWs.

Besides, Bangladesh also has 2,500 km2 of shallow water areas. Installing floating solar on just 10% of these areas would generate 25 GWs. Big lakes like the Kaptai and the thousands of kilometers-long river pockets can add 20 GWs.

Regarding land-based options, experts calculate that Bangladesh has around 5,000 km2 of potential for roof systems. Just 10% of them can generate 25 GWs.

Wind power potential in Bangladesh

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concludes that Bangladesh has significantly more wind power potential than previously thought, especially at a hub height of 140 to 160 meters.

The preliminary results from the NREL study reveal that for wind speeds of 5.75–7.75 m/s, there are more than 20,000 km2 of land with a gross wind potential of over 30 GW. If not anything else, this wind energy potential can prove invaluable for meeting Bangladesh’s 10% renewable target by 2021.

The Renewable Energy Sector in Bangladesh

The areas with the highest potential are the 724 km coastline along the Bay of Bengal, Kuakata, Sandwip, and St. Martin. Wind power installation in these areas will solve the lack of energy access to the locals who had long remained off the grid.

The government is already starting to push in that direction. In December 2020, it approved a major 55 MW wind power project in Mongla. Other projects are also in the plans.

The Challenges Facing the Solar and Wind Power in Bangladesh

The biggest challenge facing the renewable energy transition in Bangladesh is the switch from coal to LNG. According to IEEFA, such a move is unnecessary as it will only slow down the clean energy transition.

Another obstacle is the overcapacity problem that had remained unaddressed for years (learn more in our article on ‘The Power Overcapacity in Bangladesh and How Can Renewable Energy Help’However, a switch in focus from coal-and LNG-fired power to renewables can successfully address this.

Financial and project development challenges also remain. According to reports, the local banking sector cannot provide long-term financing or due diligence required for renewable projects development to ensure everyone has energy access.

graphic of the state of renewable energy in Bangladesh, TBS News
State of renewable energy in Bangladesh, TBS News

Another often-cited challenge is land scarcity. However, experts in the field oppose this theory. Aside from the potential locations for solar and wind power development mentioned above, according to IEEFA, the amount of land suitable for renewables in Bangladesh is likely much more than previously assumed.

The Future of Renewable Energy in Bangladesh

Considering that renewables are cheaper, with more stable prices, and can help the country regain control over its power sector, cut capacity payments, and meet lower demand growth, all the triggers for a successful clean energy transition are present.

Yet, there is the sense that, in the era of fast-moving energy technology, Bangladesh remains stuck in the past. The 2016 PSMP is five years old already. The new plan must introduce fundamental changes if the country is to march towards a sustainable future.

Renewable Energy Technologies in Bangladesh

The good thing is that Bangladesh has all the prerequisites to do so. The renewable energy investment opportunities will grow in the power plant development sector and complement niches like solar system production. Due to the relatively lower labor cost and the growing industrial prowess of the country, experts project that the local manufacturing of floating pontoons, solar panels, and supporting accessories will experience a significant boom in renewable energy.

Bangladesh power development board and its policies

The opportunities are there and, while challenges remain, with appropriate government policies (learn more about their state here) and a proactive approach from the investors, Bangladesh can quickly change its course. For the better.

quote about renewable energy investments

by Viktor Tachev

Viktor has years of experience in financial markets and energy finance, working as a marketing consultant and content creator for leading institutions, NGOs, and tech startups. He is a regular contributor to knowledge hubs and magazines, tackling the latest trends in sustainability and green energy.

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