The World Bank has approved $55 million in financing to expand the use of renewable energy in rural areas of Bangladesh that grid electricity cannot easily reach. The funds will be used to finance the Second Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) Project.
The project aims to install 1,000 solar irrigation pumps, 30 solar mini-grids, and about 4 million improved cooking stoves in rural areas. The project, including the additional financing, will enable about 10 million people living in villages, shoals, and islands to access electricity and use energy efficient cooking stoves.
The financing will also help increase the use of solar irrigation pumps, a low-cost technology that is well suited to the country’s flat terrain and abundant sunshine. The switch from diesel pumps is expected to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and save foreign exchange by reducing the subsidies the government pays on diesel imports.
Since 2002, the World Bank has been helping India expand renewable energy programs. In the energy sector, the World Bank has ongoing support of over $1.6 billion in Bangladesh covering generation, transmission, distribution, and renewable energy.
“We are proud to be helping Bangladesh increase access to clean electricity through solar power. Today, the country has one of the world’s largest domestic solar power programs, covering 14 percent of the population,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
“Building on its success in using solar energy to provide electricity in rural areas, this financing will also scale up other clean renewable energy options,” added Qimiao.
“In Bangladesh, indoor air pollution causes 107,000 deaths per year, mostly women and children. Traditional cookstoves used in rural areas are a major contributor to this,” said Amit Jain, World Bank Team Leader for the project.
“This project will scale up the use of improved stoves. Their energy-efficient design emits 90 percent less carbon monoxide and uses half as much firewood as traditional stoves. A major thrust of the project will be to increase use of affordable, fuel efficient cookstoves by the poor and extreme poor,” added Jain.
Bangladesh is moving toward a greener electricity generation mix. In December 2017, Bangladesh’s North-West Power Generation Company Limited tendered a 7.6 MW grid‑connected solar PV project to be developed in Soydabad, near the capital city of Dhaka.
In October 2017, the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) signed a 20-year contract with privately owned Teesta Solar Limited, a sister of BEXIMCO Group, to procure 200 MW of solar electricity, according to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).
Image credit: World Bank