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‘Private sector needs more cooperation for renewable energy expansion’

The use of renewable energy in Bangladesh is increasing, but its usage is not as wide and speedy as expected.

In order to achieve the goal of generating 10% out of the total power electricity in the country from renewable energy, private sector needs more cooperation for expanding the use of renewables.

Siddique Zobair, an energy policy expert and career bureaucrat working with the government of Bangladesh for the past few decades, made the remarks. He is also a former member of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority.

In an exclusive interview with energynewsbd.com, the energy expert recently shared his views over the sector.

energynewsbd.com: The idea of renewable energy generation in Bangladesh was conceived and measures to this end were taken 1990s. How do you evaluate the achievement in the sector for the past 30 years?

Siddique Zobair: Though the expected success is yet to be achieved, the sources of renewable have undergone a massive diversification. Alongside of solar energy, the process of generating power from waste, biogas, and biomass as well as solar irrigation pumps is getting popular.

Well, it is also true that Feed-in-Tariff could not be introduced as yet. But net-metering for rooftop solar is giving some form of incentives to energy users. Then again, this needs to be made attractive. Abandoning conventional and segmented approach, we should be working in a coordinated manner and under a comprehensive plan.

energynewsbd.com: The private sector is interested in greatly investing in the renewable energy sector. But there is no significant success to this end. What type of incentives does the government should offer, you think?

Siddique Zobair: Taking queue from the global scenario, local investors are showing more interest in renewable energy sector than ever before. But the reality is that the lack of an appropriate policy and administrative support for investment is hindering their aim.

Moreover, those involved with fossil fuel also have negative perception about renewable energy, halting the development of an effective business model. These are the major reasons for the renewable energy sector not receiving the required impetus in the country, thus, lagging behind as compared to neighboring nations.

energynewsbd.com: We are making a tremendous progress in promoting renewable energy in rural or off-grid areas. How do you find the role of urban renewables behind this?

Siddique Zobair: In urban areas, we are mainly focusing on rooftop systems as there are numerous multi-storey buildings, with the roofs at industrial, institutional and commercial structures remaining almost unused. If we can bring those roofs under the umbrella of solar power network, those will not only contribute to our power generation, but also help us make the most of the rooftops. Plus, the roofs will come under regular supervision when the solar systems come across maintenance occasionally.

The tariff from rooftop solar systems is getting very competitive as compared to the grid tariff, with a grid-rooftop parity almost formed.

energynewsbd.com: Which option is better to power generation from renewables in Bangladesh?

Siddique Zobair: Though Bangladesh is enriched with many renewable resources such as solar energy, hydro energy, biomass energy and wind energy, the potential to generate power from solar source and wind is the most. 

energynewsbd.com: How do you think financial institutions are promoting renewable energy in the country?

Siddique Zobair: The government is committed and trying to develop the capacity of our banking sector. If that works properly, the number of obstacles in securing funds for renewable energy projects will largely decrease.

When the developed world is for ensuring huge funding for renewable energy, we are still far behind as compared to the global standard. This is all happening just because of insufficient funding.

In order to garner bigger funds in our local context, we must show the financial institutions that our renewable energy sector is much more competent and have a huge prospect. 

The financial institutions also need to keep in mind that we have the ability to properly use the funds. We are open to help build the capacity of any financial institution.

energynewsbd.com: What is the most crucial issue in Bangladesh’s renewable energy sector presently?

Siddique Zobair: The government’s support is the most significant promotion of the renewable energy sector. The government enacted a policy in 2008 with special targets on the renewable energy sector. We need to increase campaigning to boost investment in the sector. The private sector also has to be cooperated to help expand the renewable energy sector.

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