Renewable energy brings light and power to to rural Bangladesh

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Renewable energy brings light and power to to rural Bangladesh

Power supply in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka is far more stable in recent years. While over half of rural households remain without electricity, the government, the private sector, Chinese investment and local NGOs are all helping to bring power to the people at a rapid rate, including through the expansion of solar technology.

CGTN’s Rian Maelzer reports.
Follow Rian Maelzer on Twitter @rdamael

Renewable energy brings light and power to to rural Bangladesh

Renewable energy brings light and power to to rural Bangladesh

Power supply in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka is far more stable in recent years. While over half of rural households remain without electricity, the government, the private sector, Chinese investment and local NGOs are all helping to bring power to the people at a rapid rate, including through the expansion of solar technology.
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More than 60 percent of rural homes in Bangladesh now enjoy the simple convenience of electric lights, thanks to the rapid electrification of rural areas since the beginning of the decade. More than one in six households rely on solar energy. Bangladesh now has nearly five million solar homes and shops, tens of thousands of biogas plants and nearly one million biogas cooking stoves in use.

“We can cook faster with the gas, there’s no black smoke, we can leave the food cooking and go do something else. And we can use the biomass that’s left over to fertilize our fields,” Zayeda Khatun, a beneficiary of the solar energy said.

Power demand is growing about 10 percent a year, still far outstripping supply despite the use of renewable and heavy investment in new power plants. Analysts say the country’s unreliable and inadequate power supply has hurt industry and deterred foreign investment.

About two-thirds of the country’s households get their electricity from the main power grid. But the government aims to increase that number to 90 percent by 2018, and for every household to be connected by 2021–an ambitious goal that raises many challenges.

“How you are going to generate the power is also a sustainability question, is also very critical. Remember, we only have gas, natural gas is our only source of energy and everything else needs to be imported, and the gas reserve is depleting and getting to zero very soon,” Kam Morshed, director of BRAC, an NGO said.

Analysts say renewable such as solar energy should not just be a stop-gap measure till the electricity grid is further expanded.

“What they can do is to connect all those individual households to the grid so that surplus power can be put into the national grid and become part of the overall country’s power supply,” Quimiao Fan of the World Bank said.

Helping Bangladesh fulfill its growth potential and further raising the living standards of its 160 million.