06 Jul 2023
Gender, Community & Inclusion
Research & Analysis
Posted06 Jul 2023
LEI staff, together with partners UNSW and ENRAC, recently presented to the Bangladesh State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources the work conducted under the World Bank project, Systematic Identification and Access to Land for Renewable Energy in Bangladesh.
Recent analysis shows Bangladesh is facing its worst electricity crisis since 2013, with 2023 power outages (114 days so far) already exceeding those experienced across the entirety of 2022 (113 days). These outages are caused by a fuel shortage – but record-breaking heatwaves and natural disasters are also having a huge impact on the nation’s energy resilience. Renewable energy will be essential to Bangladesh’s sustainable energy future and the country has established ambitious targets to achieve 30% clean energy capacity by 2030, increasing to 40% by 2041. Whilst this will require significant investment, recent analysis shows that the cost of transitioning is likely to be much lower than current power sector subsidies, which have surged in the wake of the fuel price crisis.
The challenge is hence not only financing the ‘just energy transition’ – but also, and one may argue primarily, finding the land for renewable energy. And it’s not necessarily a quantity issue, but a location and viability issue. That’s where spatial data and land administration are essential. Many tools already exist to assist with siting renewable energy infrastructure, but it’s rare for these to balance both technical and social needs – and none were suitable to the specific context of Bangladesh.
Across the first half of 2023 the LEI team developed and tested two key tools to address the need for a transparent and efficient process for identifying land suitable for utility scale solar installations:
These tools address the fundamental criteria that:
Land suitable for utility scale solar installations must be technically feasible, comply with the national land policy, be attractive to RE utility companies and pose low social and environmental risks.
In addition to the first two tools, the team developed a site-specific field assessment for solar investments, assessing potential social and environmental risks, with particular attention to the collection of land ownership data and data on land use. The data collected under the three tools was presented in an interactive RE (Solar) Dashboard, allowing for a quick snapshot of results at different sites.
The process for implementing these tools is shown in the following stages:
The Renewable Energy (Solar) Zoning Tool (Stage 1) uses GIS analysis at national and regional scales to identify areas within Bangladesh most suitable for developing a solar zone, considering major technical, environmental and social factors. The Renewable Energy (Solar) Site Specific Tool (Stage 2) assesses the estimated yields and outputs, sets values and ranges for cost-estimates, determines Net Present Value (NPV) and the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) at specific sites. Together these two tools interact to assist decision makers to decide which sites within a particular zone are likely to yield optimal outputs (considering financial costs), with sites able to be ranked by their LCOE. Tool outputs can then be taken to prioritised sites to determine social and environmental risks, including existing land ownership and use. All datasets are then compiled into the Renewable Energy (Solar) Dashboard to assist final determinations.
In a pre-feasibility study led by LEI together with the World Bank, six sites were assessed and determined to be feasible for generating over 6GW of electricity from solar PV sources. The report also recommended that a memorandum of understanding should be established between the Ministry of Lands and the Power Division within the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, to best determine solutions for accessing land.
This study was presented by the LEI team – including Renée Chartres and partners the University of New South Wales School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering and Dhaka-based Environment and Resource Analysis Centre (ENRAC) during the World Bank mission to Bangladesh. We’ve previously reported interim findings here and here on work already completed under the Systematic Identification and Access to Land for Renewable Energy in Bangladesh project.
Multiple Bangladeshi institutions and power companies were represented in the first workshop, with more than 40 people attending in person and online. Feedback received from the Power Division was very positive, reinforcing the need and relevance of these tools with significant interest in internal training to adopt and use these tools moving forward.
A high-level launch event was then held two days later, attended by the State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources and delegates from the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA). Key highlights of the event included active conversations around the possibilities to use some of the land available at cancelled power plant sites for renewable energy, including in some cases roof top energy. The Minister of Energy also committed to the transformation of the char land in Jamalpur for up to 2GW solar energy site. ENRAC presented the environmental and social challenges of utilising the char land in Jamalpur – and the importance of integrating benefits for existing inhabitants on the site, many of whom lack official land documentation.
Several media articles were posted online about the event. You find these at the following links:
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