DHAKA, Bangladesh — The government of Bangladesh is trying to supply electricity to the more than 13 million households that are currently off the grid. The World Bank recently approved a $600 million loan to Bangladesh through its Rural Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project, a subset of its International Development Association (IDA). The loan will bring electricity to over 25 million people in eastern Bangladesh. It will cover the costs of upgrading existing lines and substations, while also contributing funds towards new systems. These upgrades will increase the efficiency of current systems.
Some of the present inefficiency arises from a difference in frequency, as is the case with Indian company Tripura’s transmission to Bangladesh through its Palatana plant. Beginning from Calcutta and passing through the Chittagong-Asuganj route, the transmission passes through West Bengal, which uses a frequency of 60 Hz. The electricity in Bangladesh must then pass through a converter to get to the standard 50 Hz used in the country. The World Bank-funded upgrades happening in the Dhaka and Sylhet regions, in addition to the Chittagong, will reduce the energy lost in these conversions.
The loan will take 40 years to mature with a grace period of 10 years, and there is a service charge of 0.75 percent. The Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) and the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) are in charge of putting the funds to work, organizing the various projects. This investment adds funds to a project that has already proven successful, in the past; electrifying the country of Bangladesh has a positive record of success, but lately funds have grown tight for the wide-spread goal.
The loan will supplement this endeavor, and help provide millions of rural citizens a way to rise out of poverty through increased opportunities for economic activity.
Another method of increasing these electricity-powered opportunities comes in the form of solar power. Over the past ten years, solar energy initiatives in Bangladesh have supplied over one million solar systems to rural homes.
This growth is continuing, as Bangladesh is installing 80,000 solar-powered systems per month. This has meant increased economic opportunities, not only because electricity allows for increased productivity and access to industries, but through the electricity itself; the business of solar energy has given 114,000 Bangladeshis jobs. In the two years between 2011 and 2013 alone, jobs in the solar power industry doubled. Bangladesh tied with Spain when it came to renewable energy employment in 2013, contributing to the 6.5 million renewable energy jobs across the planet. Employment is set to rise, too, providing alternatives for the 4 million people currently in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
About half of the population lives without electricity in Bangladesh; in such a situation, both methods for increasing electricity are welcome. Regardless of whether it comes from the sun or from India’s power plants, the increased opportunities provided by Bangladesh’s investment in lighting its countryside is already benefiting its population by providing jobs and other economic opportunities.
Sources: World Bank, bdNews24, takepart, The Atlantic
Photo: Power Insider