Increased solar power usage: Possibilities and challenges

Nazmunnaher Nipa

18 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Among the sources of renewable energy in Bangladesh, electricity generated from solar energy has the highest potential. Sunlight and heat are used to generate electricity. Its photoelectric effect was used in the last century to generate electricity through photovoltaic cells.

Solar panels are currently being used to generate electricity for household needs. Solar panels are a collection of numerous photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into usable electrical energy. In Bangladesh currently, an average of about 80,000 solar home systems are sold per month. Around three million solar home systems have been installed across the country with the help of various NGOs. Like other countries in the world, Bangladesh is increasingly relying on renewable energy. Utilising solar energy for renewable energy, the government has undertaken projects like solar parks, solar mini grids, solar rooftops, solar irrigation, etc. in different parts of the country.

Electricity is generated by turning the turbine of the generator using wind energy. Biogas and biomass are also meeting the demand for fuel in different parts of the country. According to the Renewable Energy Policy, it is planned to generate 10 per cent of the total electricity from renewable energy sources. The government has already taken up several projects to achieve the target. Wind resource mapping is going on in 13 places.

Other areas where survey work has been started are: solar boating system, solar water heating in industry, solar water supply in fish farming, power generation from municipalities, installation of solar rooftop system on commercial basis in industrial establishments, installation of solar roof on commercial basis in educational institutions, etc. Possibilities are being created around renewable energy. Bangladesh is also becoming a role model in the international arena in the use of this environmentally friendly energy. According to the Global Status Report on Renewable Energy, Bangladesh now ranks second in the world in the use of solar power at home. Also according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, a global organisation in the renewable energy sector, Bangladesh ranks fifth in the world in terms of job creation in the solar power sector. Through this, employment of 1 lakh 37 thousand people of the country has been created.

Solar power is one of the best renewable energy sources. At present, the process of setting up a solar park with a capacity of 1,046 MW is underway across the country. Work is underway to set up another 390 MW solar park by various government utilities. If these projects are implemented, it will be possible to connect 1,960 MW of electricity to the national grid through the solar park. Besides, 19 solar mini grid projects have been implemented so far. Nine more projects are under implementation. Electrification work is underway by IDCOL to develop Monpura Island as a 100 per cent renewable energy based island under the supervision of SREDA.

There are several new technologies for using solar energy. Radiset renewable energy systems can be charged from solar panels, bicycle generators, grid electricity, etc. Later, it is possible to charge small electronic devices starting from light by using its battery charge. Sunwater project collects solar energy through solar panels and uses it to irrigate the land for cultivation. This makes it easier to supply water for cultivation in areas without electricity by using natural energy at very low cost.

Sun King Pro uses lithium ferro-phosphate (LFP) batteries. Once charged using sunlight, it can charge mobiles and light bulbs. The battery used in this project is more powerful than the lithium-ion battery.

Recently, a solar-powered auto rickshaw prototype has been built by Yunus Mia, a rickshaw puller from Bangladesh. It can run all day by charging only twice a day. It costs only 50,000 taka to build the rickshaw, and has a 20-year warranty.

Three researchers from Jahangirnagar University have made solar-powered boats for 12 passengers. The boat itself will avoid all kinds of accidents. While in port, it does not consume any electricity, but the battery will continue to be charged due to the solar panel system. Once fully charged, this boat can be operated for 10 to 12 hours.

According to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), construction of 23 renewable power plants is underway at various stages in the country. And if these are implemented, it will be possible to generate 1,220.77 MW electricity. Hopefully, more than 1 crore people in the country are enjoying electricity facilities in remote areas through solar power. The cost per unit of renewable energy is also lower than other fuels. According to Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), 415 MW of power is currently being generated from solar panels, 2.9 MW from wind, 230 MW from water, 63 MW from biogas and 0.4 MW from biomass.

Renewable solar and wind power currently provide about 30 per cent of the total energy used in Germany. By 2025, renewable solar and wind power will provide 45 per cent of their total used energy and by 2050 it will be 80 per cent.

Solar energy is a clean energy not polluting the environment. The amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth's surface each year is equivalent to 130 trillion tons of coal, which is the largest energy source in the world. Sunlight shines on the earth without geographical limitations on land, sea, mountains or islands everywhere, if developed and usable, it is easy to collect and needs no transportation.


The writer is Associate Editor, the

Environment Review