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Dhaka Tuesday,  Jul 23, 2024

Cross-Continental Energy Collaborations: Bangladesh’s Partnerships with Italy, France, UK and the EU

SYED RAIYAN AMIR, Modern Diplomacy

In an era defined by global energy challenges and sustainable development imperatives, strategic partnerships between nations play a pivotal role in shaping future energy landscapes. Bangladesh has actively engaged with European countries like Italy, France, the UK, and the EU to strengthen its energy infrastructure and advance renewable energy initiatives. This article explores the evolving energy cooperation between Bangladesh and its European partners, focusing on key projects, initiatives, and their implications for sustainable energy futures.

Italy has emerged as a crucial partner for Bangladesh’s energy security ambitions, particularly in LNG supply and potential offshore exploration ventures. On June 9, 2023, Italy expressed a strong interest in establishing a long-term LNG supply agreement with Bangladesh. This initiative is significant amidst Europe’s energy dynamics, which emphasize diversification and security of supply. ENI, a leading Italian energy company, has been shortlisted by Petrobangla for potential LNG supply contracts, signaling deeper private sector involvement in Bangladesh’s energy market. Discussions also include collaborative efforts towards offshore exploration, highlighting Italy’s commitment to expanding its energy footprint in Bangladesh beyond traditional supply agreements.

France has been proactive in supporting Bangladesh’s energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors through targeted initiatives. On March 16, 2023, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) signed a €560,000 grant agreement with Bangladesh to enhance energy efficiency in the industrial sector. This collaboration aims to promote the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, encourage the establishment of renewable energy power plants, and support women entrepreneurship in the energy sector. The project is part of a broader framework facilitated by a €50 million loan from AFD to BIFFL, enabling concessional lending to eligible private sector clients. France’s commitment to Bangladesh’s ‘Green Energy Transition’ underscores mutual objectives of sustainable development and climate resilience.

The United Kingdom has been a key investor in Bangladesh’s renewable energy sector, contributing to its technological advancement and capacity building efforts. Since May 31, 2022, the British International Investment (BII) has pledged $450 million over five years to finance private sector initiatives in Bangladesh’s renewable energy and green manufacturing sectors. This substantial investment reflects the UK’s confidence in Bangladesh’s stable governance and supportive policy environment for renewable energy development. In July 31, 2023, discussions expanded to include initiatives such as piloting solar irrigation pumps and establishing wind labs in Bangladesh. These efforts aim to harness renewable energy potentials effectively, develop offshore wind guidelines, and enhance capacity in carbon pricing and trading strategies.

The European Union, through the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other channels, has significantly contributed to Bangladesh’s renewable energy infrastructure development. On October 25, 2023, the EIB and the EU announced a landmark €395 million funding package for renewable energy projects in Bangladesh. This initiative represents the EU’s first direct investment in renewable energy projects in the country, focusing primarily on solar PV and onshore wind installations. The funding includes concessional loans and technical assistance grants, aimed at bolstering Bangladesh’s capacity in green energy generation and supporting its climate mitigation goals. The collaboration underscores the EU’s commitment to fostering sustainable development and climate resilience globally, with Bangladesh as a key partner in these efforts. Additionally, the EU-funded projects aim to install 750 MWp of renewable energy capacity in Bangladesh, facilitating significant progress towards achieving national energy targets and reducing carbon emissions.

Comparative Analysis and Synergies

The partnerships between Bangladesh and its European allies demonstrate complementary strengths and shared objectives in advancing sustainable energy solutions:

Italy contributes expertise in LNG supply and potential offshore exploration, addressing Bangladesh’s immediate energy needs and enhancing energy security. France focuses on enhancing energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy adoption, aligning with Bangladesh’s goals of sustainable industrial development and climate action. The UK supports technological innovation and capacity building in renewable energy, facilitating knowledge transfer and promoting green growth in Bangladesh. The EU provides substantial financial resources and technical expertise through institutions like the EIB, promoting large-scale renewable energy deployment and sustainable energy transitions in Bangladesh. These partnerships not only diversify Bangladesh’s energy mix but also strengthen its resilience to global energy market fluctuations and contribute to achieving international climate commitments.

Challenges and Opportunities

Energy partnerships between Bangladesh and its European partners offer promising opportunities but also encounter challenges that need careful consideration. It’s important to align national policies with international cooperation frameworks to smoothly implement energy projects. Addressing infrastructure gaps and improving grid connectivity are crucial for integrating renewable energy sources into the national grid effectively. Ensuring the financial sustainability of renewable energy projects through innovative financing and sustainable investment practices is essential. Additionally, promoting the transfer of clean energy technologies and local capacity building will support the sustainable deployment of energy.

The collaborative efforts between Bangladesh and its European partners underscore a shared commitment to advancing sustainable energy futures. These partnerships not only enhance energy security and promote renewable energy adoption but also foster technological innovation and economic growth. As Bangladesh continues to expand its energy infrastructure and address climate challenges, these partnerships serve as models of effective international cooperation for global sustainable development.

By leveraging mutual strengths and resources, Bangladesh and its European partners are paving the way for a resilient and interconnected energy landscape. The initiatives outlined in this article demonstrate how strategic partnerships can drive positive change, facilitate economic growth, and mitigate environmental impact. Moving forward, sustained collaboration and innovation will be essential in achieving shared goals of energy security, sustainability, and inclusive development on a global scale.


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