Category Archives: Environmental/Green

Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas

Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas
By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, June 10 (BSS)- Low-cost biogas, an alternative fuel for cooking, is increasingly getting popular among the people at different rural areas even in outskirts of the metropolis for the last couple of years.

Biogas is not only used as fuel for cooking foods but the slurry, main effluent of the biogas plant, is also being used as organic fertiliser in the farming fields for boosting its production and in the ponds as fish meal.

The people, who never thought of having gas for cooking rice in their remote areas, are now regularly using for their domestic purposes like civic life. Currently, more than 400 rural families are using biogas instead of firewood to cook foods and to boost farm and fish production.

The Premtaly and some of its adjacent localities under Godagari Upazila has been identified as biogas village, local sources said.

Most of the users expressed their satisfaction over the biogas plants as they find this alternative fuel much cheaper than firewood and any other fossil fuel.

Marzina Begum, 45, a housewife of Bijoynagar area under Godagari upazila, has been using the biogas for the last one and half years. She cooks meal for her seven-member family twice everyday.

She said the use of the price hiked kerosene and LPG cylinder has become unbearable in the rural life.

In that case, use of biogas is very comfortable and it has no negative impact to the environment, she clarified.

“In addition to cooking meals of our eight-member family, I have been running a cow-fattening farm with 26 cattle and seed production project on 45-bigha of lands commercially with my two biogas plants simultaneously for the last one and half years,” said Aminul Islam Fatik of Bidirpur area.

He said that he had set up a 2.5 square-meter plant with his own initiative in 2007 for meeting up his domestic fuel demands.

Afterwards, he installed another 4.8 square-meter plant in 2010 for fulfilling his domestic and commercial demands through using the natural resources especially eco-friendly biogas and slurry.

Sabrina Reja, 30, wife of Selim Reja, of Premtali Dumuria, described her practice while she was cooking their midday meal in her double-burner oven. She said all of their daily family cooking is being done with the biogas excepting the winter season.

She added that the biogas is very effective for the cooking meal for any farming family as it requires more utensils and needs additional workforce for cleaning of those regularly.

But, the biogas has no smoke and black spot on the utensils, so there is no extra burden of cleaning and washing.

“We have eight cattleheads and all of their dung are being used in our plant,” she said adding, “We cook rice bran of four kilograms for the cattleheads besides three-time meals for our seven-member family everyday and regularly with the gas”.

In the process, she said there is no extra cost to feed the cows excepting the rice straw.

Referring to multifarious problems relating to cooking in conventional earthen stove Sabrina Reja attributed that the biogas cooking contributes a lot to remove the obstacles by large.

By dint of the biogas cooking, she said their life style has been changed at a greater extent.

Women members of the family are being benefited more in the new system as most of them are liable to manage the rural family especially cooking together with cleaning and washing the utensils.

Murshalin of Premtali Khetur area said the use of biogas has brought a new dimension in his family.

As a whole, the plant has ensured security of the domestic consumption of fuel.

“In addition to cooking meals of our nine-member family, I have been running a tea stall at Premtaly Bazar where around 80 cups of tea are sold everyday and all the tea-water are being boiled by our own biogas,” said Shariful Islam of Kathalbaria.

‘We never thought of having such type of privilege in our village. But biogas has made things happen, by which we save at least Taka 900 per month as the water boiling purpose.’

Not only that, the harvested bioslurry is being used in 10 bigha of fish culture ponds as primary feeds for boosting fish production.

“Earlier, we had to use the cow-dung as cooking fuel, but now using those in the biogas plant by which, we are getting diversified benefits,” said Rafiqul Islam of Shekherpara adding that the dried slurry is also being used as cooking fuel.

He said a family of five to six members can easily cook their foods and fulfill the demands of organic fertiliser of his farming field and fish culture ponds from one plant.

Various vegetables and fruits especially banana are being grown well on surrounding grounds of the slurry dumping ditch without any extra fertiliser and care, he viewed.

Gooryong Fashions plans green building

Gooryong Fashions plans green building
Star Business Report

Gooryong Fashions Ltd, a Gazipur-based garment group, has signed agreements with two consultancy firms to set up a green building at its existing premises within the next one year.

Green building refers to a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout the building’s life-cycle: from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

The move comes in response to growing demand from international buyers for clothing items manufactured with environment-friendly technologies.

Spectrum Lanka Technology Solutions Ltd and Energy Solve International (Pvt) Ltd will provide consultancy services in exchange of a $90,000 fee for the construction of the sustainable building that meets the requirements of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), said Delwar Hossain, chairman of Gooryong.

US-based LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction and operation and maintenance solutions.

Farooq Hasan, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the government and the garment makers’ associations are working together to capacitate garment factories to move from traditional production methods to green technology.

The Solar Alternative

Cover Story

The Solar Alternative

About 37% of Bangladesh’s population is connected to the electricity grid, meaning the majority of countrymen do not have access to a formal electricity connection. But life must go on. Solar energy is considered to be an alternative as it generates power independently in the off-grid areas. It is also cleaner compared to fossil fuel fired power supplied by the grid. According to the Infrastructure Development Company (IDCOL), as of 2011, solar energy has given approximately 10 million rural people access to power; enabling them to explore various modern livelihood options. Dr. Rumi Shammin (Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at Oberlin College, Ohio, USA) and I visited rural areas in Khulna to see how solar energy had changed the lives of village people.

Dr. A. K. Enamul Haque

We had set out early on 28 March 2012. To find people using solar energy, we needed to travel further than the reach of the national power grid, so, our destinations were Batiaghata and Dacope, both in the Khulna district. We wanted to understand who uses solar power in rural Bangladesh, and how solar energy benefits them. Despite it being almost three times as costly as the next best alternative (lantern), solar energy is changing the lives of thousands. We wanted to see how people are adopting such instances of technological innovation and what do they do with the new found ‘light’ in their homes and businesses. Frankly, we were surprised by the ingenuity of village folk in using solar energy to change their life and raise their income.

It starts with basic indoor lighting, and since solar energy became available, rural activities no longer stop with the sunset. We met a lady who, after being divorced by her husband, has taken up teaching school students privately at her home. She lives with her mother and brother, but one batch wasn’t allowing her to earn enough. Now she teaches two batches, one in daylight, and one at night using solar lights. Her income has doubled. Even in parts that have grid electricity, solar powered power systems provide backup power, filling in for power cuts. We had tea at a roadside tea stall which was using solar power. When asked, the stall keeper said he preferred to use a legal solar system, instead of using an illegal stolen connection which he could lose at any moment.

Solar energy has changed entertainment options as well. In a privately run game centre behind a tea stall, people were paying 8 taka per game to play ‘karam’ at night, with the room lit up by a solar powered light bulb. Although we didn’t have the opportunity to see one, we heard of irrigation pumps being run by solar power as well.

Once we had left the poles of the power grid more than 20 kms behind, we were surprised to find that life was abuzz in villages, even at night. With almost every person in the country having access to mobile phones, there is a need to recharge batteries. We found mobile phone charging shops that charge by the hour to charge phones! The person running it also knew some light mobile engineering and operates a solar-powered mobile repair shop as well. Small businesses also exist where people can make phone calls from, at only 1 taka per call. These small businesses need to charge their phones constantly, and are able to do so using solar power.

Unfortunately, solar power is not being used where it should be, in the cities. The tall buildings of Dhaka have tremendous potential of generating electricity using solar panels, a potential that has not been tapped. Since formal electricity is being sold at subsidized prices (costing the government billions in fuel costs), there is no natural incentive to use solar power at homes where grid energy exists. People would rather use diesel based backup power instead of solar, since solar power is still comparatively more expensive. But things need to change slowly over time, and we need policy to change people’s motivations, starting with a mandatory requirement of generating a portion of all consumed electricity on site using solar power. This will reduce pressure on grid electricity, reduce power cuts, improve environmental conditions, and free up electricity which can be supplied to spots where poles and wires exist without any actual supply. In the long run, such a policy will also motivate estate developers and apartment builders to design the surface area of buildings in a way that is greener and more conducive to capturing sunlight, enabling buildings to generate as much solar power as possible.

A solar home system would cost between 10,000 taka to 50,000 taka depending on its capacity and what really bothered me is that rural people were borrowing money to pay for this light source even though they perhaps never spent this much money to buy a comfortable bed in their houses. Yet, in city areas, we are set to use generators instead of solar lights to power our houses during power failures.

The cost of solar units in urban locations will be even cheaper if we promote a ‘net meter’ by which SHSs can be used to produce and sell electricity to the power distribution companies in the cities using our rooftops. Rough calculations would show that there is opportunity in Dhaka city alone to produce nearly 600MW of electricity if we ensure that all dwellers produce 10-20% of their power consumptions using solar systems. However, instead of consuming at home they should supply it to the grid so that the need for batteries is reduced, in turn reducing the cost by at least 50% or more. Alternatively, government could think of reverse incentives scheme through a discriminatory pricing of electricity in urban areas. This means that houses who produce and sell electricity at least 10% of their consumed power needs to the distribution companies will continue to pay same price per unit of power while who does not will have to pay 50-100 greater price for a unit of electricity. There are various policy options that can be considered to make this a reality. Ironically, producing electricity through diesel costs very little (compared to solar energy) and so we are using diesel powered generators in the cities and polluting the air. This fact alone should make us respect our rural people more, who pay so much more for power.

Dr. Haque is Professor of Economics at United International University

Cover Art by Ujjal Ghose

2000 mw power to be generated by biogas plants

2000 mw power to be generated by biogas plants, Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr AtiurRahman Saturday said it is possible to generate 2000mw of electricity bybringing the country’s 120,000 poultry farms under biogas management plants.

The central bank chief came upwith the disclosure while addressing the inaugural function of biogas plantmanagement as a chief guest at Ramu upazila of the district.

He added: “Poultry industryis the second largest source of grameen employment.”

“With a view to encouraging the people, Bangladesh Bank has taken initiative ever first to invest in theenvironment friendly biogas plant management programme,” he said.

A poultry farmer named Mujibur Rahman said, “I made a biogas plant by using the wastage of a poultry farmwith the technical help of Rahman Renewable Energy Company.”

He added: “A total of Tk 10lakh has been cost behind the project whereas the Eastern Bank Limited gave meloan of Tk 7.35 lakh.”

“Now I am producing 3500kwof electricity from the plant sized in 50 cubic mitres of biogas plant,”he said.

Meeting my needs, I am nowplanning to supply the excess electricity to the neighbouring 15 housescommercially, said Rahman.

Khorshed Alam, SME Chief ofEastern Bank, said the bank has introduced ‘EBL-Nabadoy’ scheme for thedevelopment of sustainable business.

One can get Tk 10 lakh loanwithout deposit under the scheme, he said adding in the meantime, Tk 39 lakhhas been disbursed to six projects.

Eastern Bank Managing DirectorAli Reza Iftekhar, International Finance Corporation Regional Representative Ziba A Perumal Pillai, Programme Manager Mrinal K Sarkar, Rahman RenewableEnergy Company Managing Director Redoanur Rahman were among others present  at the function.

IFC helps farmers convert waste to electricity

IFC helps farmers convert waste to electricity
Staff Correspondent

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is working with Eastern Bank Limited (EBL) to help poultry farmers buy technology that uses waste to generate electricity, enabling farmers to increase their efficiency, productivity and profitability.

With support from SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility, managed by IFC, in partnership with UK Department for International Development and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, EBL yesterday launched ‘EBL Nobodoy’, a customised loan product to help farmers install fixed-dome biogas plants to convert animal waste into electricity.

IFC said around 2 billion chickens in Bangladesh produce some 2.2 million tonnes of manure a year. Efficient management of this waste, converting it into a cheap and reliable source of energy, will help small farmers develop sustainable poultry businesses, it added in a press release on Friday.

Dr Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director of EBL and Jeeva A Perumalpillai-Essex, head of IFC’s Sustainable Business Advisory in South Asia, among others, addressed the inaugural function in Cox’s Bazar.

Dr Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, encouraged other financial institutions to create “need-based initiatives that promote climate-change mitigation projects.” Farmers being able to generate their own electricity will also help reduce the diesel subsidy being provided by the government, he added.

Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director of Eastern Bank, said: “Our bank is dedicated to sustainable development, which is the cornerstone of everything that we do. We are committed to financing businesses that invest in green technology and will continue exploring innovative ways to improve local communities and the environment.”

Jeeva A. Perumalpillai-Essex: “In the area of clean and renewable energy promotion, we look for projects that combat climate change and benefit the overall economy of Bangladesh. This project is a perfect example of getting far-reaching results from a very local approach.”

IFC said Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and as a low-lying country is also extremely vulnerable to climate change, with food security and disaster management deserving high priority. Bangladesh’s GDP stands at $100 billion, fueled mostly by growth in textiles and agriculture.

Solar-powered ATM booth in Sandwip

Solar-powered ATM booth in Sandwip

AB Bank Ltd has recently opened its fourth solar-powered ATM booth in Sandwip, Chittagong. All necessary equipment of the booth will be powered by 16 kilowatts of energy supplied by solar panels set up on its roof. Photo: AB Bank Ltd

Solar power lights up Bangladesh

Solar power lights up Bangladesh
Much of Bangladesh’s rural population lived without electricity until low power solar systems transformed their lives.

Naimul Haq

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – The sun never shone brighter on rural Bangladesh with low power solar systems transforming the lives of tens of millions of marginalised rural people who are unconnected to the national grid.

Nizamuddin Sheikh, 52, who runs a small eatery in Foilerhat market in Bagerhat district, thinks that the Bangladeshi Taka 1,900 (US $24) he paid for a 20 watt solar set, that includes solar panels, battery, regulator and a set of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and LED lights, is the best investment he ever made.

“Before I bought the set from GS (Grameen Shakthi, a sister concern of Grameen Bank) my restaurant was kept open only during the daytime, but now I have extended my business well into the evenings,” Nizamuddin said. “My income has doubled.”

Nizamuddin has to repay the rest of the cost of the solar home system (SHS) over the next 36 months at five dollars per month, which, he says, is no burden.

“Once we demonstrate the benefits of SHS, people respond with tremendous interest,” said Habibur Rahman, GS regional manager in Bagerhat. “And then we offer easy and affordable monthly installment facilities.”

There are various packages on offer suited to different income groups of people in the rural areas. The very poor can own an SHS, paying as low as 10 per cent of the total cost with the rest payable in 36 equal installments.

Typically, people from the poorer sections opt for an SHS set that costs $124 and capable of generating about 10 watts of electricity to light a five watt CFL for about three hours.

Better off people buy more powerful systems, paying 35 per cent of the total cost of the SHS in advance and the balance over a 12-month period. Costs vary with energy output, with the most expensive model costing $925 and providing 135 watts of uninterrupted power for four hours.

Acting managing director of GS, Abser Kamal, said, “SHS units are in demand due to many advantages, but especially because it is far cheaper than conventional fuels like kerosene and diesel and has no maintenance expenses.”

“In the villages solar power provides extended working hours for students, shopkeepers and housewives. Now they can do things like conveniently charge mobile phones – which have already been changing lives,” Kamal said.

A sluggish national grid

“Without solar power many villagers would probably have had to wait years to get electricity from the national grid,” he said. “Solar is transforming their lives – this is quick social and economical development.”

Only 41 per cent of Bangladesh’s 142 million people have access to electricity from the sluggish national grid.

GS, a pioneer in promoting ‘green energy’, started out in 1996 as a lone player and today is the largest distributor of SHS – over 700,000 units out of a total of about 1.1 million in the country – contributing to the daily generation of about 60 Mw of solar power.

So successful was the initial programme of promoting SHS that the private sector sold 50,000 sets in about five years – two years ahead of the target of 2008.

In 2008, the government set a target of five per cent of total energy from renewable sources and 10 per cent by 2020.

Current power generation from some 81 power plants amounts to 6,700 Mw, with 95 per cent of it coming from burning fossil fuels like coal, furnace oil, gas and diesel. Hydroelectric power accounts for another 3.3 per cent

Bangladesh’s energy minister Muhammad Enamul Huq explained, “We want to promote solar system in every corner of the country and so we are giving huge incentives to the private sector to make solar affordable.”

Government incentives for companies setting up solar plants include a 15-year tax holiday and exemption from paying import duty on equipment.

Foreign investors get exemptions on royalties, technical knowhow, technical assistance fees and facilities for their repatriation of profits. Foreigners working in solar energy projects need pay no income tax for the first three years of their stay in this country.

Last year the government also made it mandatory for all newly constructed domestic and commercial buildings to have solar systems installed on rooftops.

“Today we are helping to change the lives of 7,000 rural people every day through solar technology,” said Islam Sharif, chief of the state-owned financier, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), which funds 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 1.1 million SHS – mostly in partnership with GS, but also with other companies and NGOs.

Sharif said, “Through our 29 partners we are now helping to add 24 Mw of solar power in Bangladesh every year.”

MA Gofran, a leading Bangladeshi expert on renewable energy said: “In 10 years from now we want to celebrate the 50 years of independence of the nation by seeing all our villages using renewable energy.”

Govt plans big in solar energy

Govt plans big in solar energy
Author / Source : STAFF REPORTER

DHAKA, DEC 29: Rural Bangladesh is to see an increase in solar electricity generation as part of the government’s ambitious plan to boost the provision of power from renewable sources, according to a top government official. “A target of generating 500 megawatts (MW) of green energy by 2015 has been set. The attempt aims at narrowing the gap between current supplies of grid electricity and the needs of the country’s 160 million people,” said Tapos Kumar Roy, additional secretary of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.

Official data show that only 49 per cent of the population has access to electricity from the national grid. Fossil fuels account for almost all the current capacity of 5,500 MW, with renewable sources, mostly solar power, contributing just 55 MW.

The government says there are environmental and developmental imperatives behind its search for alternative energy sources.  Burning fossil fuel emits greenhouse gases into the air, contributing to the warming of the globe. And fossil fuels are depleting very quickly which is a threat to future power generation, said the power ministry official.

Under the plan, 340 MW of new capacity will be generated from systems installed on residential, commercial and industrial buildings, as well irrigation pumps, mini-grid systems and solar parks.

Solar power systems that have been installed on the rooftops of local government buildings, railway stations, and rural health and educational institutions will provide the balance.

The government believes, Roy said, investments totalling $2.24 billion will be required to reach its solar power target.

It is seeking about $1.6 billion dollars in financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other development partners.

New policy fires up solar energy business

New policy fires up solar energy business
Sohel Parvez

A government policy to promote renewable energy has lured a large number of new entrants into the business, particularly for solar panel installations, sector people said.

In the last two years, nearly 100 firms and NGOs have appeared on the scene to sell technologies including solar home systems, irrigation pumps, water heaters, street lights and their accessories and batteries.

“We have taken it as an emerging business,” said Taskin Choudhury, head of business development of Allied Solar Energy Ltd, which entered the trade a year ago to supply solar technologies, panels and accessories.

The government has taken a policy to meet 5 percent of the country’s energy demand through green energy by 2015 and 10 percent by 2020.

In the last seven years, more than 10 lakh rural homes in off-grid areas have got lights through solar home systems (SHS), while millions still live without electricity.

“It is a big market. Only one crore homes have come under solar power,” said Md Akhtar Hamid Khan, chief operating officer of InGen Technology Ltd.

Some 80,000 SHSs are installed a month, said Choudhury of Allied Solar. Installation of SHSs will also require accessories such as battery and inverter.

Nearly half a dozen firms, including Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy and Electro Solar Power, stepped in to assemble panels.

The government had earlier set conditions that newly built buildings will have to meet a portion of their electricity requirements through solar energy in order to get fresh electricity connection.

The requirement for producing green energy is 3 percent and 7 percent of the total electricity demand in the residential and commercial buildings respectively.

Syed Istiaque Ahmed, head of sales of Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy, however, said many are assembling panels, targeting mainly the off-grid areas.

“There is a huge prospect of solar irrigation pump,” said the official.

Noting a recent rise in the installation of solar panels in the grid areas, he said a business opportunity has been created suddenly. But only 25 percent of the buyers are conscious about quality, he said.

Choudhury of Allied said his company works with around 20 realtors to set up solar panels in new buildings. “This segment of the market is also big.”

Choudhury also cited the potential of business of solar street lights, industrial water heaters, solar power plants and supplying solar power to the national grid.

“We have already won a government contract to install solar street lights from Notre Dame College gate to Kakrail Mosque,” he said.

Bangladeshi jute, cotton bags ‘may shine in Tower Hamlets’

Bangladeshi jute, cotton bags ‘may shine in Tower Hamlets’
Author / Source : UNB

Dhaka, Dec 23: Environment-friendly jute and cotton bags from Bangladesh might grab a wider market access to Tower Hamlets Council in East London, said Executive Mayor of London Borough of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. Rahman said this when a delegation of Youth Initiative UK (YIU), a non-government organisation of Bangladeshi youths operating in London, met him recently at his Idea Store’s office in London, according a message received here on Friday.

YIU chairperson Mohammad Adu Haseeb led the delegation while project officer Syed Rabius Shams, monitoring officer Esrat Jahan Mita and volunteer Nazmul Haque were also present.

Lutfur Rahman showed interest in Bangladeshi jute and cotton bags and exchanged views on issues related to promoting social business practice by introducing environment-friendly products like jute and cotton bags for use in everyday shopping.

Haseeb said they had a very fruitful meeting with the mayor and they discussed promotion and popularisation of environment-friendly jute and cotton bags in London. He said jute and cotton bags can be used as a substitute for poly bags throughout Tower Hamlets area as part of efforts to save the environment.

Rahman appreciated the delegation’s initiative and assured his all-out support to YIU in promoting ‘Social Business’ within Tower Hamlets.

Rabius Shams, the YIU Project officer, said they emphasised the feasibility and sustainability of launching an eco-friendly initiative titled “Promoting Sustainable Use of Jute and Cotton Bags (Eco Bags)” to substitute poly bags throughout Tower Hamlets under social business.    UNB

Harnessing the potential of biomass

Harnessing the potential of biomass
Shafiqul Alam

There is an increased awareness on the need to provide alternative sources of fuel and energy. Not only the availability of fossil fuels is in question, but also the natural ecological balance of the planet is in the debate. Taking into consideration that burning fossil fuels are liable for greenhouse effect, countries around the world are exploring biomass as a safer alternative.

Biomass is recognised as regenerative (renewable) organic material that can be used to produce energy. These sources include aquatic or land vegetation, residues from forestry or agriculture, animal waste and municipal waste. With this in mind, harnessing natural energy has become the focus of scientists in an effort to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and find a safer and cleaner alternative source of energy.

One of the main benefits of biomass fuel over fossil fuel can be best understood in terms of greenhouse gases. While both biomass fuels and fossil fuels release about the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, there is a distinct difference in the effect they each have on the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide but biomass fuel, on the other hand, releases carbon dioxide that is captured during photosynthesis and it tends to equal itself out. Nothing ‘new’ is being sent into the atmosphere, thus greatly reducing the greenhouse gas effect on the ozone layer.

The other benefit of biomass is quite significant. With heavy dependence on petroleum products for fuel, there is always a tension between the need for petroleum and money. As biomass fuel is readily available, the reliance on external sources of fossil fuel can be reduced.

At this point, Bangladesh is facing problems on multiple fronts such as power crisis, lack of alternative sources of energy, increasing fuel import and the like. Now the question comes — how will it be possible to provide electricity to the ever increasing population, a majority of whom live in villages and rural areas?

Energy consumption is certainly growing every day due to industrialisation and all other associated facilities installed or to be installed. To keep pace with increased gap between demand and supply of electricity, some quick rental power plants have been installed, but quick rental power plants are increasing problems instead of solving given that the option is draining money at an increasing rate. However, to minimise subsidy the government has increased power tariff several times in 2011, but the power sector is still far from being satisfactory.

Biomass resources are potentially the country’s largest renewable energy source — annual biomass amounts to thousands of tonnes. Biomass conversion to fuel and chemicals is an important alternative to replace oil, gas and coal. Under such circumstances, small units of biomass power generation system can be installed in remote areas to meet its demand or a part of its demand so that pressure on the national grid will be low.

It is notable that more than a billion dollar is being provided by the government as subsidy to facilitate quick rental power plants which are not sustainable in the long run. At the same time, the burden on general people is increasing. Moreover, at current rate of gas exploration, finding huge gas is a distant dream.

Against this backdrop, biomass provides a cleaner and renewable source of energy with the ability to reduce dependence on imported oil. More and more uses are being discovered as research continues in this field with the current emphasis being placed on the fact that biomass is not only reasonably priced but also a safer substitute for oil and natural gas. With this in mind, new bio-fuels will become increasingly popular in the future which will in turn provide a solution to some of the current problems such as, sources of alternative energy and ecological and atmospheric concerns.

(The writer can be reached at email:

Deals inked to produce 1,105 MW from coal, solar

Deals inked to produce 1,105 MW from coal, solar

Star Online Report

The government on Tuesday signed four agreements with Orion Group and Solarium Power Ltd for producing 1,105 megawatt of electricity from coal and solar system as part of its efforts to diversify energy sources.

Power Development Board (PDB) inked separate deals with Orion Group to set up three coal-based power plants at a ceremony at the Bidyut Bhaban in the city.

The plants will be set up at Mawa in Munshiganj with a capacity of 522 MW, Chittagong with a capacity of 282.67 MW and Khulna 282.67 MW.

Orion Group will invest US$ 1.4 billion to set up the load-based plants, said its Chairman Obaidul Karim.

PDB signed the fourth deal with Solarium Power Ltd, which will set up a thermal solar system in Mymensingh with a capacity of 18 MW, the country’s first renewable energy-based power plant with a capacity over one megawatt.

The plant will cost Tk 235 crore, Nazmul Abedin, managing director of Solarium, said at the signing ceremony.

The coal-based power plants will be ready between 36 and 45 months while Solarium plans to start commercial operation in two years.

$2.76b solar energy plan awaits approval of PM

$2.76b solar energy plan awaits approval of PM

A file photo shows solar panels on the Bangladesh Bank premises. The Power Division is likely to finalise a $2.76-billion plan to generate 500MW of solar power by 2015 through both commercial and social projects. — Focusbangla photo

Manjurul Ahsan

The Power Division is likely to finalise a $2.76b plan to generate 500 mega watts of solar power by 2015 through both commercial and social projects.

The plan will be placed before prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the minister for power, energy and mineral resources, for her approval, said a Power Division official.

He said, ‘Since the Asian Development Bank has back-tracked on its plan for funding the projects through a combination of grants and soft loans, the government will now implement the projects involving different funding agencies and routes including private entrepreneurs.’

According to the plan, around $1.77b investment will be required for generating 340 MW power in commercial projects and $1.0b will be required for generating 160 MW in social projects.

The commercial ventures involve solar plants which will provide 150 MW of power for irrigation, solar parks which will supply 145 MW of power to the national grid, and a solar power mini grid which will provide 25 MW of power to rural consumers.

In addition, 30 MW will be generated in commercial and residential buildings and industries.

The official said that the government would need to provide a huge amount in subsidy, even more than what is given in power purchase from diesel-run rental plants for the national grid.

In the social projects, a total of 50 MW of power will be generated in the rural health centres by the health ministry, 40 MW will be generated in remote educational institutions by the education ministry, 41 MW of power in government offices by the public works department, 12 MW of power in religious establishments by the religious affairs ministry, 10 MW of power at remote railway stations by the railway department and seven MW of power at union information centres under the local government division.

The government will also give support to the implementing agencies — both in the public and private sectors – by providing fiscal incentives for project investors and operators, exempting certain technology and equipment from import duty, land acquisition and other institutional support, the official said.

The government so far has been able to generate 55 MW of non-grid solar based power.

Another 35 MW of non-grid solar based power generation plants are in the pipeline for implementation, it was learnt.

150, 000 biogas plants in rural areas by 2016

150, 000 biogas plants in rural areas by 2016

DHAKA, Dec 17 (BSS) – The country is expected to see a surge of biogas plants in next five years as initiatives have been taken to set up 150,000 such plants in rural households by 2016, promoters of renewable energy said today.

“We have set a target to establish a million units of biogas plants in 15 countries of Asia, where Bangladesh would set up 150,000 plants in rural areas by 2016,” Dr Govind Raj Pokharel, senior advisor for renewable energy of the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), told journalists at a press conference here.

Dr Govind Raj said south Asia has a big prospect to popularize biogas, a gas generated from organic substances through decomposition under aerobic conditions, and ensure a better living standard of the rural households. He said the biogas plants could be set up at any households who generate 30kg of cow dung or poultry excreta everyday.

Sources with the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), which has made an arrangement with German KFW and Dutch SNV to set up more biogas plants across the country, said Bangladesh has now an estimated 50,000 biogas plants, much of which had gone dysfunctional at the beginning. But the plants that have been set up later have shown an efficiency of 85 percent.

In initial survey of IDCOL show that biogas plants could be set up among two million rural households and meet their long demand for clean energy for domestic uses-cooking and lighting. But aspects like lack of proper motivation, appropriate technology, rising cost for plants as well as availability of cow-dung and poultry excreta have been barring the sector to flourish at mass scale.

IDCOL’s Director SM Formanul Islam said the biogas plants could be a great solution for those rural households, who want to cook food by clean energy sources and reduce indoor pollutions.

He said a biogas plant now costs over Taka 35,000, but the costs could be recovered in three years.

The concept of biogas has been pioneered by Bangladesh Center for Science and Industrial Research (BCSIR) in early eighties and they set up bulk of the biogas plants across Bangladesh. But much of the plants could not sustain due to lack of proper supervision and maintenance. A new initiative has been taken to popularize the system through technical and cash incentives.


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IDCOL to install 1.5 lakh biogas plants

IDCOL to install 1.5 lakh biogas plants
Biogas week begins with a call for clean fuel

Star Business Report

The Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL) will set up 1.5 lakh biogas plants by 2016 to supply clean fuel across the rural homestead of Bangladesh, said a senior official of the company yesterday.

Around 20,000 plants have so far been set up, said SM Formanul Islam, director (legal) of the company.

The country has a prospect to install around 20 lakh biogas plants thanks to the availability of cow dung and favourable weather, he added.

Islam spoke at a press conference on Biogas Week 2011 at Dhaka Reporters Unity to highlight the significance of the week.

The non-bank financial company will install the biogas plants though its partner organisations under the National Domestic Biogas and Manure Programme, he said.

Only 3 percent of the population, primarily based in urban area, uses natural gas delivered by pipeline for cooking. But 70 percent of the rural population does not have access to piped gas, said Islam.

Biogas plant can fulfill this gap as a substitute fuel as the plant does not need to use expensive kerosene, firewood and straw for cooking, said Nazmul Haque Faisal, senior programme manager.

He said the plant requires cow dung and chicken excrement to produce energy. A typical biogas plant can be used for more than 30 years and requires only 200 square feet area.

A homestead biogas plant costs around Tk 30,000 to Tk 35,000 where IDCOL provides Tk 9,000 as a start-up subsidy, Faisal added.

With progress, IDCOL lends around Tk 14,000 to Tk 16,000 to its partner organisations, and the plant owner can pay the cost of the plant in instalments at Tk 1,100 per month, he said.

A regular sized biogas plant requires 30 kg cow dung a day, said Islam.

The biogas residue can also be used as organic fertiliser, as it is a high category manure and good for cultivable lands and fish-growing ponds, said Islam.

A plant can produce around six tonnes of organic fertiliser in a year, he added.

The state-owned company is currently running a nationwide weeklong programme to raise awareness about the benefits of manure as fertiliser and alternative sources of clean fuel.

At present, 30 non-government organisations are working with IDCOL to set up and popularise biogas across the country. International NGO SNV-Netherlands Development Organisation and the German government’s development agency KFW are jointly financing the project.