3rd January 2022
Rezul Ahsan

Speakers at a recent webinar have warned that it would be extremely challenging for Bangladesh to come out of fossil fuel so soon and suggested making aggressive efforts to develop renewable energy and its storage capacities as well as ensuring efficient use of energy. They also suggested launching storage technology-based pilot projects to gradually reach a state that would facilitate using renewable energy round the clock.

 

Energy & Power magazine in collaboration with SREDA and GIZ organized the webinar on “COP26 Outcome and Its Implication on Energy Transition of Bangladesh” as part of a series titled “EP Talks”.

 

The speakers stressed on the need for expediting national preparedness towards achieving sustainable development through ensuring security of energy that would be clean, friendly to the environment. And, whatever achievement the country may be able to achieve must be kept well-documented with real time data so that the country can produce it as a case before the global community like climate change conference.

 

Abul Kalam Azad, Special Envoy of Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) Presidency and President of Bangladesh Energy Forum took part in the discussion as chief guest while Mohammad Alauddin, Additional Secretary and Chairman of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), attended the talks as special guest.

 

Dr. Nurul Quadir, former Additional Secretary and Climate Negotiator as well as a faculty of North South University, presented the keynote paper. Engr. Mohammad Hossain, Director General of Power Cell, Md. Ziaul Haque, Director of the Department of Environment and Climate Negotiator, Dr. Mizan R Khan, Deputy Director of International Climate Change and Development, Independent University, and Engr. Al Mudabbir Bin Anam, Program Coordinator of GIZ, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program (REEEP) phase 2, attended the event as panelist. EP Editor Mollah Amzad Hossain moderated the webinar.

 

Mr Azad said the Mujib Climate Perspective Plan has set a target to develop a Mujib Energy Hub offshore Bangladesh where there is a prospect for generating around 20,000MW of wind power. An initiative has already been launched for resource mapping. He said introduction of the net metering system has facilitated commercialization of rooftop solar power installations. Higher success could be achieved in this regard through creation of greater awareness among the trade bodies and banks. People of the low-income group can also become self-reliant through selling power to the grid from the Solar Home System (SHS) with net metering. Work on emerging technologies like hydrogen and nitrogen energy should also start by now.

 

Mr Azad also pointed out that greater enthusiasm is now being observed amongst all about energy and climate change. For the first time after threadbare discussion, a meeting of minds could be arrived at COP26 about fossil fuels and coal. But final agreement could not be reached. Bangladesh has pledged to increase contributions of renewable energy. But it cannot be achieved on a stand-alone basis. Active consideration is being given to import of hydroelectricity and solar power through regional collaborations.

 

One of the milestone achievements of the COP26 was that the countries including developing ones have agreed to submit updated status of NDC every two years. Active participation of the world leaders was also very encouraging. Commitments for limiting global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius and providing US$ 100 billion to the climate fund were also other milestones achieved in the climate change conference.

 

Good works must be carried forward for better preparation for the COP27. That would facilitate better knowledge-based preparations for planned negotiation in COP27, he said.

 

 

 

Mr. Alauddin observed that COP26 has created a great awareness across all communities. We have achieved significant success in solar, but will have to give priority to import of hydropower. We have to proceed with the master plan. Five programs of energy efficiency as included in the PSMP are under implementation. Use of energy-efficient products would facilitate a great deal of limiting carbon emission. SREDA is also working on limiting use of primary fuel.

 

Given the potential of solar power, he said concentrated solar may not be a feasible option. Rather, we can review the possibility of solar heating application and warming water using solar power.

 

Engr. Mohammad Hossain said it has been mentioned that we have to increase activities on RE developments four times from the present level for achieving the targets set in the NDC. Now the total contribution of RE is about 700MW. If we take it four times, it stands at 2,800MW and would make no visible impact on carbon emission reduction. The developed countries in fact have to take greater initiatives. Bangladesh would, of course, dedicate its efforts within its capacity.

 

The climate perspective plan is at a very nascent stage. Increasing four times the contribution of RE is very much possible. Initiatives have already been launched for increasing solar power generation and evacuating to national grid following bringing the entire country under the power coverage. Some far flung islands and char areas have been connected to the power grid through submarine cables. Process is ongoing for evacuating another 100MW of solar power to the grid soon. Agreements have also been signed for generating power from municipal wastes. Municipal wastes are sources of environmental pollution. Generation of power from it has multi-faceted benefits. We also have potential for generating power from offshore wind. We are focusing on hydropower and solar potential. We are the initiator of the power supply chain under the SAARC framework. Our Prime Minister has championed it. Taking on board the Indian perspective, some adjustments have been made through discussion in the forum. Now the Indian energy trade outlook is far more favorable for regional trading. Greater possibilities have now emerged for importing hydroelectricity from Nepal and Bhutan. Works are advancing for importing 500MW hydropower from Nepal. Stress is being given on energy efficiency for achieving Net Zero 2050 targets.

 

The success of Bangladesh in COP26 is commendable. Bangladesh, encouraged from the world vision of phasing out coal, shelved 10 coal power projects. This has been acclaimed in COP26. The declaration adopted at the COP26 was based upon among others four proposals of the Bangladesh Prime Minister. The loss and damage issue was also discussed at great length.

 

Mr. Ziaul Haque pointed out that this was the first time that 45% carbon emission reduction by 2030 was established as a figure for limiting global warming at 1.5 degrees C by 2100 as a mitigation measure. But every country has to work sincerely on the NDCs towards achieving the emission restriction target. Even if the NDCs submitted so far are 100% achieved, the emissions would increase by 13.7% by 2030. The NDCs are weak and were discussed at length during COP26. A working group has been created for devising a program on how much realistically emissions can be reduced by 2030. This group would submit recommendations on reduction of emissions by 2030 towards achieving the 1.5 degrees C global warming limit by the end of the millennium. It was also decided that countries would submit updated status of NDC achievement every two years for possible achievement by 2024.

 

Bangladesh's achievement in NDC is mainly in energy. It would assist Bangladesh a great deal in getting international assistance if it can demonstrate achievement in mitigation. A good decision of 50:50 share on adaptation has been taken. We have worked on all options like solar, hydro, new hydro and wind for reducing emissions by 2030. Achievement of the target would be easier if we can start working on nitrogen technology as per the Mujib Perspective Plan.

 

Dr. Mizan pointed out that for the first time in COP26, all parties have agreed to phase down coal. Other fossil fuels would also come under scanner soon. Diplomacy is a factor there. Bangladesh may be severely impacted if liquid fuel is phased down soon. It would affect remittance. Creation of the Energy Transition Council is another achievement of COP26.

 

Contribution of RE is merely 3% in Bangladesh now. Target included in the Mujib Climate Perspective Plan appears ambitious. We may not achieve these in 2030 and 2040. Hence, the RE must not be the lone focus. In a rapidly developing country like ours, the focus must be multi-faceted. The decision of shelving coal power projects may be revisited. We are not sure whether Bangladesh can meet the growing energy demand after abandoning coal.

 

Discussing South Asian energy diplomacy, he said Bangladesh is promoting multinational energy trading. India is a key player here. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal under the BBIN initiative are working on multinational energy collaboration. But the progress of energy and water diplomacy is not encouraging yet. Talks with the ADB are going on for financing a 1100 MW hydropower project targeted for sharing among four nations. But the progress is not encouraging. Multicountry sharing does not go with the ultra-nationalistic strategy of India. It appears that India is traveling back to two-nation theory. This is a stumbling block to regional energy collaboration.

 

Engr. Mudabbir said that though not all expectations were fulfilled yet, COP26 made significant headways in some areas. Bangladesh could maintain its strong position in discussions. The Prime Minister and Chief of Climate Vulnerable Forum Presidency had a very effective role.

 

Giving top priority to energy security, we must direct all actions. Our energy transition must be efficient and sustainable.

 

The supply and price of fossil fuels would remain volatile. At the same time, the demand would continue to grow at geometric progression. Efficiency of RE is increasing and the cost is reducing. It is encouraging that the initiative for energy efficiency of Bangladesh is growing. We need to increase our energy efficiency to greater extent for making our development sustainable. For this, required actions and comprehensive planning are essential. For the first time this year, a comprehensive power and energy system master plan is being formulated. We hope that energy transactions would create dynamism in the development process.

 

GIZ has been working on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Bangladesh for over 12 years.

 

Dr. Nurul Quadir observed that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C would be possible if only all countries submit enabling NDCs and commit to implement it. Main focus of carbon emission was coal. But Phase Out had to be compromised to Phase Down for steep resistance from India and China. But relevant organizations could not be persuaded to pledge for reducing subsidies on inefficient fossil fuel use and concerned countries pledged for expediting phase down of coal.

 

Adaptation for the first could be discussed extensively. Initiative could be launched for setting targets for adaptation. For this, plans have been made internally and at international levels. Assurances have been achieved for all out support to developing countries.

 

Dedicated funds for loss and damage could not be sourced. It was supposed to be committed in COP26. But it is encouraging that all agreed to extensively discuss over the next two years. A positive outcome is expected in 2024.

 

The pledged US$100 billion fund every year has not been made available. But for the first time, major polluters could be brought under obligations. The Paris Rulebook could be finalized and all agreed to it. All agreed to submit a 5-year plan.

 

Pledge for US$ 4 million for initiating works on loss and damage is an achievement of COP26. This would assist greatly in advancing works in COP27.

 

Bangladesh submitted an updated NDC to the UNFCCC for total (unconditional and conditional) reduction of 90 million tonnes of GHG emission by 2030. Bangladesh does not have an obligation for reducing GHG emissions though. Now Bangladesh has to proceed to achieve it. The plan and implementation strategy of the power and energy sector in the unconditional segment of reducing emission appears realistic. Bangladesh needs to prepare a comprehensive data base of emission reduction. Presenting the real time achievements would facilitate getting international financial assistance for implementing planned targets in the conditional segment.


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