The power and energy sector of the country is buzzing with different activities but the amount of research and development in this sector is still in its nascent state.
To put research and development of power and energy sector into a fast lane, the present government has formed Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council (EPRC).
Dr Ahmed Kaikaus has profound interest in research despite being a busy top level bureaucrat. This BCS cadre (Admin) of 84th batch had recently been promoted as an acting secretary of the government.
He also holds the portfolio of being the first Chairman of EPRC. Earlier, he joined the Power Division under the power, energy and mineral resources ministry, as its Additional Secretary in May, 2014.
Dr Kaikaus recently sat with Aminur Rahman, Editor of energynewsbd.com and talked about the formation of EPRC, its implemented activities and future plan.
energynewsbd.com: What was the main vision and mission behind the formation of EPRC?
Ahmed Kaikaus: To ensure future energy security and to instigate diversified energy scenario in meeting the increasing demand of power and energy sector, Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council Act -2015 was enacted.
As the provisions present in the act, EPRC was formed in February 2, 2015. The main purposes of the council to coordinate practical and implementable research works in power and energy sector through finding and motivation, identifying the potential areas for energy diversification, conducting research works to implement long term plan, inventing new technologies and to incorporate local and international experts into the research activities of EPRC.
energynewsbd.com: There are other research council in different sectors in the country. What are the differences between those and EPRC? What is the history behind its formation?
Ahmed Kaikaus: There is no fundamental difference between EPRC and other research councils of the country. EPRC is the only organisation conducting practical research works in Bangladesh.
The research works in power and energy sector demand high standard of technological usage. Those require huge capital, technical know-how and sophisticated technologies.
EPRC was established to provide with necessary financial and technical support for conducting such research works. On that note, it is a bit different from others.
Inspired by our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her Energy Advisor Dr Tawfique-E-Elahi Chowdhury first felt the need of practical and implementable research works in power and energy sectors to bring technological sophistication in it.
The Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council Act-2015 was formulated to materialize that. Besides, special emphasis was put onto ensuring energy security to make Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 as per the vision 2021.
In vision-2021 of the government it is written “Reaching middle income status by 2021, while ensuring energy security calls for adoption of a coherent and long-term approach to managing the demand and supply of energy resources.”
To achieve that goal, a lot of practical research works in power and energy sector is needed. EPRC is formed to facilitate that research works in the power and energy sector to ensure long term energy security as it was mentioned in vision-2021.
energynewsbd.com: How far the EPRC has come so far after enacting the act in 2015?
Ahmed Kaikaus: After its formation, EPRC has implemented a number of its plans. The important ones are the following-
Financing the research project "Design and Optimization of Parabolic Reflection Type Solar Cooker for Indoor Application" implemented by the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).
Financing and jointly implementing “Opinion Survey on Power Supply to Households” with Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
Decision of financing and jointly implementing research projects with Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL). As per that decision the IDCOL proposed project “Energy Utilization of Solar PV Array of Solar Irrigation and Develop Sustainable Business Model with Remote Monitoring and Payment Gateway for the Off-grid Areas of Bangladesh” is taken.
To provide motivation in conducting research works for the development, preservation and expert usage of the power and energy sector, EPRC has conducted two round table discussions with Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
Besides, the workshops on “Mitigating Challenges in Energy and Power through Research” and “Energy Status in Bangladesh Advances in Renewable Energy Field” were organised recently.
Also EPRC has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Engineering Students Association of Bangladesh (ESAB) to facilitate active participation in research works for young researchers and entrepreneurs.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid already inaugurated the official website and facebook pages of EPRC.
Also a project is taken with International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCD), IUB to prepare a database consisting of all necessary information about power and energy sector.
To provide impetus in conducting practical research works in power and energy sectors, EPRC has decided to research grant to selected research students of BUET and other ESAB members.
energynewsbd.com: Can you give us some details about the MoU signed between EPRC and ESAB?
Ahmed Kaikaus: To motivate young generation for conducting research works in power and energy sector, an MoU has been signed EPRC and ESAB.
The issues that were included in that MoU are-
(A) Establishing a connection with the students of BUET who are conducting research works on power and energy sector.
(B) Conducting joint seminars, workshops, trainings, summit to solve the energy crisis.
(C) Providing “Youth Innovation Small Grant” for innovative project-thesis about power and energy for different students studying in different organisations.
(D) EPRC will aid in the ESAB members in using laboratory facilities of the renowned universities of Bangladesh.
energynewsbd.com: What is the number of provisioned manpower as per the EPRC organogram? As per the act, the main office of EPRC will be established in Dhaka. But does it have any plan to establish any branch office in other parts of the country?
Ahmed Kaikaus: As per the proposed organogram, there are provisions for 131 people. As per the act, the main office is located in Dhaka. There is no branch in other parts of the country but in future, EPRC might open its branch office in other parts of Bangladesh.
energynewsbd.com: What are the plans that this research based organisation has so far taken and how many of them have already been implemented?
Ahmed Kaikaus: EPRC has already taken some short and medium term plans. Among those, the important ones are-
(A) Some research proposals have already been submitted to EPRC from Energy Institute, University of Hawai and Department of Glass and Ceramic Engineering, BUET. The council will analyze those proposals and take measures to fund as well as implement the proposals jointly. Besides, necessary and technical aid will be provided to implement practical research works in power and energy sector.
(B) To bring technological advancements in power and energy sector and to facilitate practical research works in ensuring energy security, plans are taken to organise workshops in different universities which will motivate both teachers and students there.
(C) Creating a comprehensive database on power and energy sector to conduct research works in this sector properly.
(D) Aiding the students conducting research works under council to have complete access of inter-university laboratory facilities.
(E) Financing and jointly implementing potential innovative projects in power and energy sector after analysing the projects.
(F) Establishing experimental laboratory and research laboratory for power and energy sector.
(G) EPRC will provide necessary financial and technical aid to improve the capacity of the concerned researchers working in power and energy.
energynewsbd.com: Usually the research based organisations are media shy. Will EPRC be a bit different from this trait?
Ahmed Kaikaus: The main objective of EPRC is to create excellence in power and energy sector. To implement that EPRC is providing necessary aid to the creative researchers in conducting practical and implementable research works.
It is an important platform for motivating the young and accomplished researchers to conduct research works and to coordinate among different research activities.
There are legal restrictions about making public announcements of the council activities. The 5(8) section of the act said that to publicize the results of any research works on power and energy sector, EPRC has to conduct seminar, workshops and relevant publications.
EPRC is conducting its promotional activities through seminar, workshops, symposium and website so that the researchers could be award of EPRC`s purpose and plans and can get involved with it to fruitfully implement its research activities.