Within the next six years, every individual in our country should have access to modern, affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly energy, as stipulated by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 7. Our two objectives under this goal are to ensure that 100% of people have access to electricity and to raise the proportion of renewable energy in the final energy consumption to 10%. The most challenging obstacle is ensuring the continuous increase of sustainable energy to accomplish the SDG by 2030. But as of statistics from SREDA's(Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority) official website till November 2023, only 4.61% of the nation's electricity is produced through renewable energy.
In order to achieve the stated target, we need to get at least 5.39% of our electricity from several renewable sources. In addition, as the Paris Agreement requires, efforts should be made to investigate creative methods to use the Loss and Damage Fund, which COP27 has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. By encouraging the transfer and implementation of renewable technologies in developing nations like our own, this fund has the potential to accelerate the energy transition significantly.
In Bangladesh, economic and human development are impeded by a lack of access to energy sources and transformation technologies. Various energy sources, including solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, natural gas, coal, petroleum, and uranium, can be retrieved from the environment as stated in SDG 7. Reducing the risk of disaster and mitigating climate change are facilitated by using renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
We, the maritime nation, can consider maritime renewable energy, which can be a part of this source where the energy comes in many different forms, including energy from marine biomass, salinity gradients, offshore wind, waves, tidal energy, ocean thermal energy, and ocean current energy.
Blue energy, sometimes referred to as marine energy or ocean energy, represents the process of extracting and using the energy resources discovered in seas, oceans, and coastal regions. It includes a range of sustainable energy sources derived from the ocean.
Over the past 40 years, the supply and demand for primary energy worldwide have doubled, primarily due to the use of fossil fuels. In addition, the ongoing consumption of combustion fuels like natural gas and oil will cause their depletion starting in 2050. To fulfill global energy demand and gradually wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, the necessity for renewable energy sources has grown during the past few years. The amount of renewable energy in the world's energy mix is nearly 22%. In order to reduce pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, and the portion of fossil fuels in the world's energy consumption, an increasing amount of renewable energy sources are needed. Our country's potential to generate electricity is 26,024 MW.
But by 2025, the government wants to get 10% of it from renewable sources like wind, hydropower, and solar energy to achieve goal 7. At present, 95% of people in Bangladesh have access to electricity, according to the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). About 80% of the energy production capacity in the national grid is generated from natural gas, coal, and liquid fuel. Just 0.88% originates from hydropower and 3.70% from solar energy.
The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is optimistic to produce power generation of 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041. As stated in November 2023, the installed capacity of renewable energy has increased to about 1200.78 MW, where the off-grid capacity is 369.81 MW and the on-grid energy is 830.96 MW. In contrast, solar technology covers a maximum of 966.79 MW in total renewable energy. The move to renewable energy presents several complex problems. The GoB has stated that by 2041, it would like to have 40% of the energy needed for the country's developing economy to originate from clean sources. Bangladesh generates the least amount of renewable energy among South Asian nations when measured against the total capacity for electricity generation, per research conducted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). They also mention that Bangladesh uses a little bit of renewable energy compared to Pakistan (6.8%), Sri Lanka (22.22%), and India (30.2%). According to SANEM, if Bangladesh adopts LNG substitutes, it may save at least $39.6 billion, or 9.17% of its GDP, by 2030.
For many nations, it can be challenging to incorporate blue energy as a renewable energy source in the energy matrix. Blue energy is a promising energy source that generates electricity by carefully regulating the salinity differential between rivers and seawater. It is not a new concept. It was first presented in 1954 by British engineer RE Pattle. The European Union (EU) has identified blue energy as an additional pathway to achieve its energy goals. Blue energy includes well-established offshore wind and emerging technologies like wave, tidal, current, ocean thermal, osmotic power, and biomass production from algae. Several European nations, South Korea, China, the USA, Canada, and others have contributed investments in blue energy.
Different maritime nations have selected Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) as a tool for planning the sustainable use of offshore resources, such as blue energy, and the orderly growth of activities. Several countries, including EU members in the North Sea area, use MSP to reduce conflicts and encourage blue energy development. Many have set scale-up targets. The EU plans to increase its wave and tidal capacity from 13MW in 2020 to 1GW by 2030 and 40GW by 2050.
MSP is a public strategy that analyzes and distributes human activity in maritime areas according to space/zone to accomplish social, economic, and ecological goals. In order to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably, a coastal state must plan how to use them within its maritime boundary. Effectively, MSP establishes a standard framework for advancing this activity and permits the integration of diverse components that comprise the marine renewable energy (MRE) management system. With a coastline stretching 710 km, Bangladesh has a vast Maritime Area of 118,813 km2.The coastal zone of Bangladesh spans 47,201 km2 and is endowed with around 700 rivers, presenting a significant repository of natural resources. This abundance serves as a focal point in discussions surrounding blue energy.
In collaboration with Bangladesh's largest power company, Summit Group, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP) have recently proposed a 500 MW wind energy project that would strengthen Bangladesh's green energy infrastructure by directly supplying electricity to homes and businesses through an onshore substation, contributing to the country's grid. If it is carried out, this offshore wind project will be the first in Bangladesh and all of South Asia, allowing for a technology transfer that would lower barriers to entry and speed up the learning curve for a developing industry.
It might lessen Bangladesh's reliance on fossil fuels, boost the country's renewable energy output, and lessen its environmental effects. Additionally, it can draw in more investments and provide jobs, strengthening the nation's economy. Such expenditures can promote economic expansion and advance the nation's goals for renewable energy.To ensure sustainable and ethical energy generation from these sources, technical, financial, and environmental issues related to the development and application of blue energy technologies must be carefully considered. In the near future, we hope to get energy by adopting different initiatives with the support of technology. Implementing energy storage solutions is necessary to maximize the use of renewable energy and decrease reliance on traditional energy sources.
We should instill a sustainability culture in all of its energy initiatives. Local experts, engineers, legislators, and researchers should be equipped with the skills and information required for sustainable energy technology, execution of projects, evaluation of policies, and market forecasts through training programs and capacity-building initiatives. The GoB has established the specialized Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University, Bangladesh (BSMRMU), as a leading research institution in the maritime sector. Through close collaboration with SREDA, this institution has the potential to make substantial contributions to MRE research, aiding in the formulation of a national MSP strategy and driving progress toward set goals.
The writer is a Research Officer of Institute of Bay Bengal and Bangladesh Studies (IBBBS), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University, Bangladesh (BSMRMU)
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