Bangladesh eyes more US investment in renewable energy sector

Friday, 19 August 2022

Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, adviser to the prime minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs, urged the US government for more investment through its International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Bangladesh's renewable energy sector.

He made this request to US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W Fernandez at a meeting held at the US Department of State in Washington DC on Thursday, reports BSS citing a press release.

Dr Chowdhury and Under Secretary Fernandez discussed the existing bilateral energy cooperation and explored possible ways to strengthen it further.

The Energy Adviser briefed the Under Secretary on the policies adopted by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to make Bangladesh self-reliant in power and energy.

He also highlighted how the Bangladesh government was diversifying its power generation using energy from various sources like gas, oil and coal, nuclear as well as renewables.

Mentioning that the current global energy shortages caused by the Ukraine war had placed many countries including Bangladesh at risk in sustaining their energy securities, the Adviser sought the US attention to play its role to improve the situations.

Dr Chowdhury emphasised that the US should come forward with more investment in countries like Bangladesh through DFC financing.

He also encouraged US companies for oil and gas exploration in Bangladesh's offshore areas and to look at the prospects of nuclear power modular reactors in Bangladesh.

The Under Secretary appreciated Bangladesh's impressive socio-economic growth and achievements in poverty reduction.

Acknowledging that the Ukraine war was affecting countries of the world, the US did not impose sanctions on essential commodities like food, energy or fertilizers, Fernandez told the Adviser.

The Under Secretary encouraged Bangladesh to work more closely with the US to further improve labour rights and factory safety conditions to open up new opportunities and areas of cooperation.

He termed clean energy as a potential sector and opined that Bangladesh could explore such possibilities.

Under Secretary Fernandez also urged Bangladesh to join the Global Methane Pledge launched at COP26 in November 2021.

Adviser Chowdhury and Under Secretary Fernandez agreed that Bangladesh-US relation was widening and deepening and the two governments should remain engaged to advance their common interests.

Meanwhile, the Adviser joined a high-level roundtable with senior energy industry leaders from the United States in the afternoon. The US-Bangladesh Business Council hosted the event under the theme of the "Current State of Play: US-Bangladesh Energy Cooperation"

The Council's US-Bangladesh Energy Taskforce, launched by Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in September 2021, shared an update with Dr Chowdhury regarding recommendations from the business community on the expansion of LNG import capacity, the country's ambitious green energy transition, and domestic energy exploration.

Dr Chowdhury noted the critical steps and austerity measures Bangladesh is taking to manage the current energy crisis, and to put in place sustainable short-to-long term solutions to meet the energy demands of a fast-growing economy like Bangladesh.

Additionally, there was a discussion around studies being done around storage solutions, wind and solar energy, including floating solar that can be incorporated in the energy mix. Overall, the discussion explored how the US energy industry can participate in supporting Bangladesh's economic growth with a particular focus on an all-of-the-above approach for energy transition.