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Little room for playing it safe


Little room for playing it safe

Amid the rising costs of imported fossil fuels to generate power, loadshedding is now being thought of as an option to save the economy. But, if the country could well exploit the abundant tropical sunshine, it is naturally blessed with, efficiently, much of the worries attributable to the shortage of power in the country could be addressed.  

The incumbent government at the beginning had also planned to produce 10 per cent of the total electricity to be generated in the country from renewable sources.  

But till now that target is far from achieved. In fact, except sunshine, most of the other renewable sources  including wind and hydropower have so far proved to be not-so-viable an option. This is despite the study reports from satellite surveys conducted by America, especially, about the country's wind power potential.  

Meanwhile, the government's objective to add 2,500 megawatts, which is the targeted 10 per cent of the total 25, 000 megawatts of power that all the generation units of the country are capable of  producing at present, from renewable sources is still a distant dream. For so far, the solar sources could add, according to the official records, only 300 megawatts, which is a little over 1.0 per cent, to the national grid. The privately-operated solar power units, on the other hand, are said to be producing around 400 megawatts. Whatever the case may be, it only points to how dependent the nation is on the costly, imported, fossil-based energy. And it cannot be a worse piece of news when it is also known that Bangladesh is situated in the eye of the impending climate-induced catastrophe.  

Though the government's present austerity in the use of power has to do with the high volatility in the global energy market, there is no reason to assume that the crisis will be over any time soon. So, how long does the government think it can wait for a sunny fine morning so far as the country's energy security is concerned? Worse yet, the austerity measures so conceived regarding the use of power may also prove to be literally counterproductive as in the long run it is going to affect the country's development efforts negatively.  

So, there is little room for us to play it safe. The country needs to be all-out for renewable power and use of all the alternatives available locally as well as internationally for the purpose.  

And in this era of technological innovations, the government needs also to invest in the local talents who may have great ideas to resolve the country's energy predicament.  

At the same time, efforts should be on to find what novel but inexpensive  solutions are being put forward by researchers in the technologically advanced countries.  

As for instance, a Finnish group of researchers is learnt to have come up with an idea of storing sun's heat for a long time in what it calls the 'sun battery'.  In their so-called battery, the researchers use, what they term, 'low-grade sand'. With the cheap electricity they produce using solar or wind power, they charge up the sand-based device. In it, the sand, a BBC report says, can store heat up to 5,000 degrees Centigrade, which can be pumped to the residential houses during the winter when power is very expensive.  

Obviously, a country now being punished on its economic front is the largest supplier of gas and electricity. Now that Finland has decided to join the North Atlantic Alliance to the chagrin of its largest neighbour, it is only natural that it should be  desperately looking for an alternative solution to its energy needs.  

As the adage goes, it is the necessity that remains forever the mother of invention.  

Bangladesh has to be desperately innovative if it has to go ahead with its development endeavours as well as survive in the  face of the devastating impact of climate change. 

As the Finnish researchers have demonstrated, it is always not necessary that an extraordinary solution has to be very expensive or high-tech.  

In recent times, people's traditional wisdom is also being revisited  to see how human beings resolved their survival issues despite the destructive power of hostile Nature.  

Consider the resilience of the people of this Gangetic delta, of which Bangladesh is the most prominent part, in the face of the floods, cyclones, droughts or downpours. They  have been able to fight back and thrive over the millennia. How could they achieve this amazing feat though they lacked any technology in the modern sense of the term?  

If anything, modern technology has not only grown at the expense of the natural balance of the world, it has also benumbed the people's instinctive powers to meet adversities with aplomb.  

Looking at the European countries' scramble for new sources of energy, of course, the fossil-based ones, as their comfortable Russian supply is under threat, one wonders, were they really serious when they made commitments at the various UN-sponsored climate conferences? Sadly, the report released by the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  in August 2021 portrays a rather gloomier prospect for the world where the coming decades may see global temperatures exceeding the limit set at 2015's Paris Climate conference at 1.5 degrees Celsius. And the way to achieve the landmark Paris Agreement, it was pledged, to be through drastically reducing dependence on fossil fuel.  

Clearly, nothing of substance has been done since, neither towards reducing the hunger for non-renewable oil, gas, or coal, nor through making massive investments in renewable options. Hence is this mad race for energy, non-renewable or otherwise, in the wake of the Ukraine war pushing up the energy price sky-high.  

In such a situation, countries like Bangladesh have to fend for themselves.  

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