Further, a joint Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) team (including representatives from the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)) will be conducting a Joint Mission for the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP). The team has visited Bangladesh to discuss with the Government and the main stakeholders the preparation of the SREP Investment Plan, where possible funding for Bangladesh will be US$75 million. They will have agreed on next steps and a timeline to finalize the plan and submit to the SREP Sub-Committee for approval in November 2015. A consulting firm, DH Infrastructure, in association with Black and Veatch and Prokaushali Sangsad Ltd, was appointed to assist the Government of Bangladesh in preparing this SREP Investment Plan. In this Plan, small-scale-scale hydropower was considered as a potential energy sector for Bangladesh.
A reliable assessment estimates a generation capacity of 60MW of small-scale hydropower, allowing production of 200 GWh of electricity annually. However, in the final decision making process, grid-connected, small-scale hydropower was not considered for SREP funding, because of the lack of reliable data on sites and because of the social and environmental problems Bangladesh has had in the past with hydropower projects. Hydropower projects will, however, be studied further for possible inclusion in the Phase 2 investment plan.
Recommendations and Possible Contribution Areas for HPNET
Regional knowledge exchange can assist Bangladesh in initiating small-scale hydropower planning and policy. The government is not considering hydropower as eligible technologies for Feed-in Tariff (FIT) regulation as well. As in the SREP Investment Plan, possible funding for Bangladesh will be US$75 million, government should take this opportunity to scale up renewable energy technologies specially small-scale-scale hydropower in the country and consider hydropower in the FIT regulation to encourage private sector investors. As HPNET is working for the advancement and advocacy of resilient micro hydropower towards equitable and sustainable development of rural communities in South and Southeast Asia, an advocacy project can be designed to influence the experts, policy makers and government people for considering small-scale hydropower in FIT regulation. It would be a good opportunity for HPNET to highlight regional capabilities and reach out to policy makers and resource persons of Bangladesh. The SREP investment plan is also considering small-scale hydropower as one of the renewable energy technologies which will be scaled up. HPNET members could potentially contribute to the SREP joint mission for planning the development of small-scale hydropower in Bangladesh in the near future. HPNET could help coordinate the various development organizations (e.g. Practical Action, Bangladesh) for facilitating these advocacy processes in Bangladesh.
Due to the abundance of rivers and canals, Bangladesh has a good run-off river micro-hydro potential but it is yet to be explored. Bangladesh has a lot of identified potential sites in Chittagong Hill Tracts, a largely un-electrified region with mostly rural, indigenous communities. However, still there is no significant achievement in the development of small-scale hydropower in Bangladesh, with respect to its actual potential. Now the Government of Bangladesh, along with various institutions, networks and donors such as USAID, Practical Action Bangladesh, and others have realized its benefits and importance and are working towards further development.
By HPNET Member Md. Sayeed-Ur-Rahim Mahadi, Practical Action, Bangladesh