Dr. Idris Miah:
In many aspects Bangladesh is a resourceful country, though it has many problems too. Fertile land, huge manpower, unlimited sunlight etc. are some rich resources. Among these sunlight is a great source of energy and this solar energy could be an endless source of electricity. Electricity problem is one of the main problems of rising Bangladesh. Management of availability and demand of electricity is a complicated issue. The rate of increase of demand is defeating the rate of increase of production for a long time. If production increases one Megawatt then demand increases two Megawatts. So deficit remains unchanged. In 1971, only 3% of total population of the country enjoyed electricity facilities. At present it becomes more than 60% and its demand is increasing day by day. Main reasons for the increase of demand are rapid urbanization, industrialization, rural electrification etc. Government is active to fulfil this huge demand. Proper government activities are working to reduce the demand day by day, but due to the way of production, people are paying intolerable expense for electricity.
The release from this cycle of electricity deficit as soon as possible is good for nation. Fuel is essential for electricity generation. Natural gas is the main source of fuel of this country. At present more than 70% of electricity of the country is generating from natural gas. But there is a limitation of its reserve. The reserve of gas is decreasing day by day due to its excess use. On the other hand, discovery of new gas field is not so much hopeful. As a result adjustment of addition and subtraction is not satisfactory. The other used fuel for electricity generation is imported oil, which is expensive. As a result the cost of electricity generation is increasing day by day. Mass people of the country are seriously suffering from bearing this expensive cost. Their cost of living is increasing and quality of living is decreasing. The other fossil fuel from own source is coal. Geoscientists of this country successfully discovered huge amount of high quality bituminous coal in the northwestern part of the country. This coal is not yet been widely use due to lack of decision on its extraction process. A 250 Megawatt capacity power station is generating electricity by using Barapukuria coal. This coal is being extracting from a part of the basin following underground mining technique. The main source of electricity generation outside fossil fuel is nuclear power. Although at this moment there is no nuclear power plant, yet a contract has been signed with Russian Government to build up a nuclear power station at Ruppur, Pabna. Main risk of nuclear power station is its nuclear accident. So there is no compromise about its security, moreover special security measures have to be ensured.
In the country, a small quantity of electricity is being generating from renewable energy source. Kaptai hydroelectric power project is contributing a very little amount of electricity to the national grid. The project is very old. Excluding this renewable energy source, little amount of electricity are being generating from other renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy, and biogas of household and animal refusals. Tidal energy, wave energy and few more renewable energy of near coast of the country can contribute a lot in electricity generation. Considering all matters, generation of electricity from renewable solar energy source will be the best decision.
Solar energy is an electromagnetic energy. Hydrogen nuclei in the sun converted into helium nucleus by fusion process. In this process huge energy releases and appeared as heat energy. This heat energy comes down to the earth as light energy with a speed of light. Heat energy produced by the sun never comes down to the earth. But incoming light energy is the source of heat of the earth. Mankind is using solar energy from ancient time. Still we are using sunlight to dry our cloths, agricultural crops like paddy, jute etc. and many other things. Solar energy is essential for the survival of animals and plants of the earth. This energy lighted our days, creates mysterious environment of light and dark in our nights, controls earth’s temperature, monitor weather and climate change and it is essential for our agricultural production. Modern science opens the field of electricity generation from solar energy. It is an unlimited energy source. Bangladesh lies in the tropical and subtropical climatic region of the earth. Tropic of cancer passes through this country. Sufficient sunlight is available here. We can get both heat and light energy from the sun. These two types of energy can be converted into electricity. So we can produce electricity from incoming energy of the sun. We are using solar battery in small equipment like calculator for a long time. Solar energy comes to the earth by radiation. Electricity generates from photons of incoming sunlight. Here mainly solar batteries are prepared. Besides, hot water is available from solar water panel, which is very useful in many cold countries. High temperature can also be available from concentrated solar heat by using lens or mirror, a part of which can be converted into electricity. Moreover, many new processes are being invented to generate electricity from solar energy and researches are being continuing.
According to the latest news solar electricity operated aeroplanes are being experimentally flying in USA and solar energy operated largest vessel ‘Turanor Planetsolar” successfully anchored in New York port after long travel. The vessel acquired energy from sunlight by spreading its solar panel like bird’s wings during its travel. The most recent news is that a solar-powered remote-controlled helicopter dubbed ‘Solarcopter’ – is the first in the world of its kind invented by a group of masters degree students from the Queen Mary University of London under the supervision of Bangladeshi scientist Dr. M. Hasan Shaheed. This solar energy will never finish. So, one can think that a large amount of electricity demand could be fulfil from sunlight in near future and it will be more economic and environment friendly. The most important thing is that, this green energy may show right way to abolish the danger of greenhouse effect.
In Bangladesh, the use of solar electricity has been started, though its quantity is very small. But hopefully it is increasing day by day. This increase is continuing in conventional fields as well as new fields are also creating. Photovoltaic solar panel, solar burner, solar oven, solar water heater etc. are being use in this country. Many organizations have established here to spread solar electricity. But major part of the people is not aware about it. A number of Government and non-government organizations are working for people awareness about its advantages and disadvantages. The price of nonrenewable energy is increasing day by day and it is becoming intolerable for general public. On the other hand, with the increase of demand and competition of solar electricity its price is decreasing. Though initial establishment cost of solar panel is high, but presently it is decreasing. Once a solar panel is established, it will last for many years. There is no problem of electric bill. There is no cost for maintenance for first few years. Besides, generation of solar electricity does not create any environmental pollution. So proper advertisement and awareness among the mass people will help to increase its popularity and use in time.
Many Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and business firms in Bangladesh have achieved remarkable success in spreading solar energy. Quite a number of local companies are producing solar photovoltaic panels and accessories and supplying in local market. A mentionable number of NGOs and business firms come forward in this job. Most citable among these are Grameen Shakti, Rahimafrooz etc. The pioneer organization who introduced solar system and its research in this country is Rahimafrooz PV Ltd. This organization is working for multipurpose use of solar energy since 1986. Some of them are solar PV lantern, solar lighting in houses, hot water solar system, vaccine refrigeration solar system, solar system for water boiling, railway signal solar system, marine lighting solar system etc. Besides these the important job that done by Rahimafroz is the supply of solar electricity to telephone exchanges at Charfasseon and Monpuradip of Bay of Bengal. Establishment of 1.2 kilowatt solar engineering plant at Charfasseon and Monpuradip by financial assistance of Finland Government and T & T Board is another successful project. These will supply electricity to the telephone exchanges. Moreover Rahimafrooz is generating solar electricity by establishing centralized AC power project and supplying electricity from them using energy saving lights in different markets, village fairs of different parts of the country. AC power plants are also establishing in small industries, mosques etc. So far Rahimafrooz build more than two hundred thousand solar home system in the country. They are the first in the country who introduced solar irrigation system, water purification and centralized off grid solar system.
Grameen Shakti is playing a vital role in lighting remote villages of Bangladesh. It was established in 1996 and at present it is supplying light in the houses of villages from their own made small and medium solar power projects. This organization has already reached to more than ten thousand families with its solar light and this job is continuing. According to their plan, twenty thousand families will be in this project jurisdiction by 2015. At present more than eight hundred thousand people of the country getting electricity facilities from this project and it is the largest project in the world of this kind.
Borak super- three wheeled battery operated vehicles are running in the streets of Dhaka. These batteries are partially (20%) charged by solar panel. Environment friend these vehicles have few more advantages. Rural Electrification Board has taken a number of initiations as Government steps to supply electricity in the houses of rural areas including solar electrification. Recently the source of power of street light of some areas of Dhaka city is solar panel. Now Dhaka is proceeding towards sky. Many highrise buildings are developing. A number of developer companies have established. It is very difficult job for the Government to supply electricity to these unlimited numbers of flat. Government ordered to add solar panels compulsorily on every new high rise building to make the job little bit easier. As a result the use of solar electricity is spreading in big cities of the country including Dhaka. Many non-government companies have established rapid marketing facilities of solar power supply in villages and towns and they are plying vital role to spread it. Job opportunities of a large number of people are possible in this project.
Solar energy researchers of Bangladesh are active. Different academic organizations like Dhaka University, Bangladesh Agriculture University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka College etc. are engaged in solar power research. Bangladesh Council of Science and Industrial Research (BCSIR) is doing research on solar power for few decades. Solar cooker invented by them are being used in cooking. Recently in a live broadcast, a TV channel showed that a boy under teenage planned and materialized a solar battery operated rickshaw which save time of both passengers and rickshaw puller and physical labour of rickshaw puller. As mentioned above that not only in the country, Bangladeshi scientist Dr. Jamal Uddin won ‘best inventor of the year’ of Maryland state of USA for his success in the research with solar energy in Nano technical center of Kopin State University.
The use of cheap, environment friendly and easy technology of solar power is increasing and as a result the country will be able to overcome its energy crisis rapidly. So, Government has to play an effective role for that. Side by side non government investments are also essential and at the same time government assistance is expected. If everybody comes forward with honesty and sincerity, very soon a reasonable quantity of electricity could be added from solar power to fulfil our demand. As a result the pressure on fossil fuel will be reduced and simultaneously the rate of environment pollution will improve.