As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Bangladesh understands how critical a reliable energy supply is to the country's growth. However, Bangladesh is currently dependent on a waning natural gas supply and has reached a point where it must evaluate energy independent paths that are sustainable, cost-effective, and ensure long-term domestic energy supply.
USAID and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working with the Government of Bangladesh to promote a robust renewable energy market that will reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions, create economic growth through private sector investment, and generate a stable energy supply. Key to supporting this energy transition is an enabling environment, which includes the policies, plans, and practices that support renewable energy growth. NREL's assistance is designed to improve in-country analytical capabilities and the use of data-driven decision-making for energy policies, and increase the adoption of best practices and advanced approaches to energy planning.
The Foundation: Resource Data
The first step towards Bangladesh's clean energy transition required establishing a baseline delineating how much wind energy could realistically be produced. Beginning in 2011, USAID and NREL led the Bangladesh Wind Resource Mapping Project, which collected multiyear wind measurements and validated a wind modeling effort for a high-quality, nationwide wind resource estimation.
The project culminated in a report entitled Assessing the Wind Energy Potential in Bangladesh, as well as publicly accessible Bangladesh wind data available through the Renewable Energy Data Explorer tool. As a result of this project, the Government of Bangladesh has the data available to enable clean energy policy and planning activities such as designing competitive procurement processes, considering wind energy in transmission and generation planning, and encouraging private sector investment.
The Execution: Training and Technical Resources
Beyond broadening access to renewable energy resource data, USAID and NREL engagement in Bangladesh also seeks to equip local stakeholders with the technical capacity to build, operate, and manage wind energy projects. Over the last year, USAID and NREL have jointly hosted approximately 10 workshops, webinars, or roundtables. All have had a focus on understanding data and tools available for renewable energy policy and deployment decisions, obstacles to wind energy development, and grid integration and system flexibility topics.
For example, through a hosted roundtable session, it became clear that procurement was a major issue for the wind market. USAID and NREL went on to conduct several workshops for Government of Bangladesh agencies that provided a comprehensive overview of the wind procurement process and international best practices to evaluate pathways for wind energy procurement in Bangladesh. Developing a clear and transparent wind energy procurement process to include a firm procurement schedule, reasonable bid bond considerations, and provide adequate response time, among other things, will increase private sector investment in the wind sector, encourage economic development, and help meet growing energy demand through domestic energy resources.
Through another hosted event that targeted private sector developers in Bangladesh, it was determined that navigating the wind project development process in the country's nascent market remained a challenge. Resources, rules, and regulations were scattered and difficult to find as there was no single information repository available. In response to this challenge, USAID and NREL developed a One Stop Service document that assimilates much of the information and resources necessary for wind project development, with points of contact listed wherever possible, and web links spelled out for further reference. This document will support the project development process by making it more streamlined and less time consuming, opening further investment and development possibilities.
The Results: Policy and Practice
Ultimately, the goal is for the data, training events, and discussions to result in well developed policy and improved analytical tools and processes that lead to real-world wind projects in operation. These efforts are coming together, as the USAID and NREL teams recently provided comments on Bangladesh's first-ever official wind power projects installation guideline. This guideline, once released, will enable efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally neutral wind project development.
If Bangladesh is successful in meeting its renewable energy development goals, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent, according to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) report developed by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. This would reduce its 2030 total emissions in power, transport, and industry from 234 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) to 198 MtCO2e. Specifically in the power sector, the same INDC report forecasts the 15 percent power emissions reduction down from 91 MtCO2e to 75 MtCO2e.
While the path toward a clean energy transition for Bangladesh is still being paved, the data, knowledge, and tools created through this program have cleared away obstacles and created a more transparent, navigable wind energy environment. The Government of Bangladesh is committed to improving its energy processes and infrastructure to meet their aggressive goals. USAID and NREL look forward to continuing to support these goals, sharing best practices, and providing context specific technical assistance through the new Reinforcing Advanced Energy Systems program that will promote a variety of clean energy and climate change mitigation topics.
Isabel McCan is a Communications Project Coordinator at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism Studies from the University of Denver and is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado Denver.
Carishma Gokhale-Welch is a Project Leader with the Integrated Decision Support Group in the Integrated Applications Center. With nearly two decades of work experience in the United States and abroad, her work focuses on providing technical assistance to developing country governments with clean energy planning and strategy. Carishma also supports renewable energy and microgrid projects, energy resilience planning, and assists communities with energy transitions.