Following submission of a report last year by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on wind resource assessment for Bangladesh, expectations grew as nine potential pockets were identified for commercial power generation using wind energy. With the support of USAID Bangladesh Mission, NREL in collaboration with the Bangladesh government completed the study project. Policymakers now have in their hands a wind energy potential map in Bangladesh which indicates that there are more than 20,000 square km of land with wind speed of more than 5.75-7.75 meter/second. The wind speed in the costal areas of Khulna, Chattogram and Barisal, according to the report, has more than 6 meters per second wind speed at 120 meter height which is commercially attractive for power generation. (The presently installed wind turbines at Feni and in Kutubdia island has installed turbines with the blades' centre point at 50 and 18 meters above the ground). The report further assesses that the wind in the identified pockets can potentially generate 30,000 MW power provided necessary wind turbines and other infrastructure are installed there. It also suggests that Bangladesh can attain its target of 10 per cent renewable power generation by 2021 if it sustainably uses wind energy potentials.
After the wind maps become available, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has invited bids to implement three wind power projects with 50 MW capacity each at Kachua, Chandpur, Mongla, Khulna and Inani, Cox's Bazar from the primarily selected nine sites for harnessing wind energy. The bids are to be submitted within 30 July 2019. Private investors are invited to submit bids for setting up three wind power units on IPP terms within next two years. As per tender terms, BPDB will purchase generated electric energy from the wind power units for next 20 years. Once the agreement is signed with BPDB based on the submitted bids, investors will install a number of towers with wind turbines having a generation capacity of 5-7 MW power from each turbine.
Bangladesh at present has nearly 600 MW generation capacity of electricity from renewable energy sources including 230 MW hydropower at Kaptai. Contribution of solar energy is approximately 350 MW (Solar Home Systems) and grid-connected solar capacity is 39 MW. As of today, power generation from renewable sources contributes nearly 3 per cent. Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) of the government expects that additional 608 MW electric energy from wind turbines will be added in 2020. The plan of the government suggests that 2,897 MW electric energy will be generated from renewable sources by 2021, of which 1,156 MW will come from wind energy.
Harnessing commercial electric energy from solar energy sources has been significantly restricted due to land scarcity (for generating one mega watt of electric energy requires approximately 3-4 acres of unhindered land area) in Bangladesh. On the contrary, wind power potentials are almost untapped. Government policy makers expect that in two years time, wind power projects will start generation of power. And more projects will be implemented in the onshore and offshore areas.
Wind power has become an important energy source around the world. In 2018, contribution of wind power globally has reached over 600 GW. Among the renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass) wind energy has a major role. Depending on geographical locations, sources of renewable energy varies. China is the world leader in wind energy with over a third of the world's present capacity followed by USA, Germany, India, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Canada and Italy. Germany has the highest installed wind energy capacity (59,3 GW). India has installed wind capacity totalling 35GW. The Indian government has a plan for installing 60GW of wind energy by 2022.
More and more wind turbines are installed to generate electricity both in onshore and offshore wind firms worldwide as the electric energy generated by wind do not emit green house gases. Wind turbines require preventive maintenance twice or thrice a year and can be operated day and night depending on the availability of required wind speed. Opponents of wind turbines blame noise and visual pollution, sleep deprivation, anxiety, increased blood pressures as disadvantages for people living near the wind firms. Russian president Vladimir Putin raised caution on over reliance of renewable energy and warned about birds getting killed colliding with wind turbines.
However, no one denies a balance mix of conventional energy and renewable energy development. With the technological advancement of wind turbines, identified wind potential in Bangladesh can attract investors if appropriate business model for developing wind energy can be offered.\
Mushfiqur Rahman is a mining engineer and writes on energy and environment issues.