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The Financial Express

Getting rid of fossil fuels

| Updated: October 20, 2017 14:32:25


Getting rid of fossil fuels

There is a massive global movement against using fossil fuels for reducing carbon emissions and tackling the challenges of global warming. Germany has created an example for others by taking a decision to shift traditional sources of energy to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Very recently, Bangladesh has attained the status of a low middle-income country. Over the last few years, the country has been enjoying more than 6.0 per cent economic growth, and few days ago it has crossed $1300 per capita income. Now, it is eying to be a middle-income country by 2021 with full digitisation. To achieve this vision, Bangladesh will need among other things increased generation of electricity. The government has targeted to generate 24000MW where present capacity is 14000MW.
According to World Bank, about 73 per cent energy consumption of Bangladesh comes from fossil fuels. Moreover, it reported that only 60 per cent people in Bangladesh have access to electricity -- 90 per cent in urban areas and 42 per cent in rural areas.  
Our natural gas reserve may be exhausted within the next five or six years if new fields of gas are not discovered. As for coal, we are yet to decide on the mining methods -- whether to go for open mining or not. So, it is evident that only fossil fuels, coal and gas will not be sufficient for meeting the country's energy demand. There is no doubt that supply of renewable energy will need to be expanded to generate electricity at a large-scale for meeting increasing demand of energy. Now, massive expansion of renewable energy is not only desirable but also necessary to achieve long-term goals.
Germany has been the role model for the world in energy transition from nuclear and fossil fuels energy to renewable energy. In 2015, renewable energy covered 30 per cent of all electricity energy in Germany. Bangladesh has planned to meet 10 per cent of total energy from renewable source by 2021.
Bangladesh and Germany have recently agreed to work jointly to ensure micro-level energy transition. This will be run under a project where village dwellers will be brought under electricity network by providing low-cost metering devices to individual households with solar-home-systems. It is reported that 65 million people do not have access to the national grid in Bangladesh. As a result, majority of the people are solely dependent on diesel generators and kerosene lamps etc., on the other hand, Bangladesh is one of the leading countries in terms of the use of household-based solar system. Solar system has reached more than four million households to ensure basic access to electricity over the last 20 years. It is predicted that this system will make users earn additional income by selling their surplus electricity.
In our country, 53 per cent electricity is consumed by residential lines whereas 28 per cent by industrial users. Moreover, it is reported that the residential sector of Dhaka city alone consumes 48 per cent of total electricity consumption. It is expected that Dhaka will be the world's 3rd largest mega city by 2020. Energy transition can be a viable option for meeting increasing demands. The urban planning of Dhaka city should be in keeping with green economy. Solar panel in Dhaka's residential areas should be made mandatory in building codes. Use of public transport should be encouraged for energy efficiency as private cars consume more fossil fuels.
Breaking free from fossil fuels has been a popular movement all over the world for sometime now, especially among the young generation. We very often talk about sustainable development for our future generation. With traditional energy system, we will not be able to ensure better future for our next generation. Now it is the demand of the day to break the chain of fossil fuels energy and turn to renewable energy.
Regional cooperation may provide a major opportunity for South Asian countries to realise energy security through large-scale development of energy resources. Regional cooperation can be accompanied by sharing technologies and renewable energy resources. Most importantly, regional renewable fund can be a time-befitting initiative for South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal etc.

The writer is a student of the department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.
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