Energy security is a universal issue, all countries of the world concerned about it. At the same time another universal issue is environmental security. The threat that is coming from human side to the environment can cause severe damage to mankind. Although many people like American President Donald Trump points that this is concern is fake, but the environmental scientists are not agreed with his view. They are talking about sustainable environment and focusing on sustainable energy sector. In this modern world, people are too used to with various forms of energy use including vehicles, computers, satellites, etc. So in every country of the world has the thrust for having sufficient energy for playing smooth business and trade. A struggling country like Bangladesh, the importance of having energy security, is very important as it is always in deficit and imports various kinds of energy resources from other countries. But the country should not take any step that hampers the environment. The planners and policy makers should also concern about the environmental facts.
Sustainable Energy and Coal disillusion in Bangladesh:
The word sustainable indicates a way that could continue smooth condition for a long period. It could use for anything but recently environment specialist relates this sustainability with environment to save the world atmosphere and natural resources. In his recent comment the great Stephen Hopkins asked the people to seek new world as the Earth is going to destroy due to environmental disorder.
Sustainable energy is very much related to sustainable environment. W need power and energy but it does not mean to destroy the nature. In recent year in Asian context, China and India is making remarkable approaches in sustainable energy projects. They are reducing coal based energy sector and enhancing solar and wind energy as it is environmentally friendly.
On July 20-22, 2017, a three-day International seminar that is held on DR.Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology heading’2nd International Conference on Renewable and Sustainable Environment’. There speakers from different countries shared their work and opinion regarding renewable energy and environmental sustainability. India and China they are coming out from the coal based energy plant, but we can see the different attitude towards the neighbouring and friend country Bangladesh. They are influencing and making joint coal based power plant in Bangladesh.
“The government is very much optimistic to bring the entire country under cent percent power coverage by 2021 and we have undertaken various projects to ensure energy security in the country,” State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid .He also stated that the state-owned Rural Power Company Limited (RPCL) and Chinese state-owned Norinco International Ltd would install the power plant in the vicinity of Payra seaport, and it would be a 50:50 share project with China. (http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2017/07/01/75574/BD,-China-to-build-1,320MW-coal-power-plant-at-$-2b; 01 Jul 2017)
Table 1: Power Sector at a Glance (June 2015)
|1.||Installed Generation Capacity (grid) (June 2016)||12,365MW
|2.||Maximum Demand in FY 2016||9,600 MW|
|3.||. Maximum generation so far (30June, 2016)||9,036 MW|
|4.||Energy Generation (kWh)||45,836 M kWh|
|5.||Transmission Line||(400 kV 230 kV & 132 kV) 9,700 km|
|6.||Distribution Line (33 KV and below)||) 3,26,000 km|
|7.||No. of Consumers||18 million|
|8.||Transmission and Distribution Losses||13.55 %|
|9.||Village Electrification no
|10.||Access to Grid Electricity||66%
|11.||Per capita Electricity Consumption (Grid)
Source: System Planning, BPDB
As a developing and fast urbanizing country Bangladesh needs energy for the smooth maintenance of economy. In every sector of development the use of energy is required and the demand would be double within 2020. Currently used sources for demanded energy is provided through traditional resources like Oil, Natural Gas. The privatization of energy sector started in Bangladesh in early 1980’s. But still we can find the deficit in energy. Although power sector development in Bangladesh quite remarkable in recent years but the Rampal Project and Payra power project is not getting popularity. Government sticks with their decision to implement the project but public opposing and many protests are going on in national and International level. Rampal power plant is proposed near UNESCO World Heritage site Sundarban and UNESCO declared Sunderban is in a risky zone and it sent its own mission in 2016 to collect proper information regarding the project as government is not lifting the project.
On the basis specialist opinion, UNESCO has told the Bangladesh government not to carry out the project in its present location and set up it only environmental risk free region of the country.
But in July 2017 UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has withdrawn its previous objection towards the construction of the Rampal power plant at its current location. It has also freed the Sundarbans from being referred to the List of World Heritages in Danger, according to a press release issued by the foreign affairs ministry on 6th July.
The Committee also welcomed a number of steps taken by Bangladesh since 2016 to ensure the conservation of the Sundarbans World Heritage Property. As per the request of the Committee, Bangladesh also agreed to undertake a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the south-west region of the country, including the Sundarbans. (http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/102686; 7 July)
Energy is needed for economic development of Bangladesh and for attaining sustainable development goal it is in another way hampering the environment by enhancing coal based power plants. The bad impact of coal in environmental sustainability as a disillusion in Asia is happening in comparatively developed countries like China and India, but the growing economic country like Bangladesh, for the thrust of meeting the immediate power and energy need this type’s coal disillusion is not getting popularity. Time will reveal the truth regarding the 2nd class coal based power plant projects. Government should take the right decision for preserving the environment and attaining its hundred percent power coverage plan by 2021 with the use of sustainable and renewable energy projects.
Author: Alma Siddiqua is the post-graduate at the Centre for South Asian Studies, UMISARC, Pondicherry University, Kalapet, India.