At the 10th Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development, the Asia LEDS Partnership organized a side event on the March 30, 2023, which focused on fostering peer learning and capacity building for increased access to electrification and increasing the share of renewable energy. Government representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Philippines shared their experiences in increasing access to electricity and transition to renewable energy sources. All three countries have deployed different approaches to achieve their energy needs, particularly in transitioning to greater utilization of Renewable Energy (RE). The session provided the participants an opportunity to learn from their shared experiences, and to further delve into identifying similar solutions in their own countries. This panel included Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Philippines representatives, and the key takeaways from their presentations are summarized below.
Bangladesh – Policies to achieve 100% electricity coverage
Shah Zulfiqar Haider, Technical Adviser to Sustainable & Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), Government of Bangladesh, spoke of the policies and measures adopted by his country to achieve 100% electricity coverage. He mentioned that in 2009, there was massive load shedding and only 50% of the country was electrified. This led the Bangladesh government to take concerted efforts to expand electrification to 100% coverage by 2022, and develop an energy efficiency and conservation plan, which included short, medium and long-term measures. In the last 13 years, Bangladesh has been able to reduce system losses from 16.85% in 2009 to 10.41% in 2022. It aims to further reduce losses up to 7.5%. At present the primary fuel is oil, gas and coal. Bangladesh’s current energy consumption from clean sources, including off-grid, is only 5%, but by 2041, the country targets of covering 40% of its power generation with clean energy.
Bhutan – Using off-grid renewables to achieve 100% rural electrification
Dechen Dema, Executive Engineer, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Government of Bhutan, highlighted the role of off-grid renewable to achieve 100% rural electrification. She mentioned that Bhutan’s electrification rate currently stands at 99.97%, however 72% of the nation’s energy requirements are met through thermal energy, and 28% of the total energy share is met through renewable energy sources including hydro power. Given the rugged terrain of rural areas in Bhutan, standalone solar home lighting systems and off-grid solar PV plants are the most suitable alternatives in providing electricity to these regions. So far, a significant number of solar water heating systems, biogas plants for cooking, and improved cookstoves have been installed across the region and have complemented the existing power system.
Success factors for expanded use of off-grid PV solar plants:
- Government policies, including the use of 5-year plans to maintain a structured timeline
- Financial support through grants and loans, including from non-conventional sources
- Applying and building a skilled local workforce through:
- leveraging existing local skilled workforce
- building capacity through virtual training
- creating advocacy programs on RE technologies
- utilizing existing helicopter services for materials transport
- Engagement with local community including advisement on benefits of adoption
Philippines – Lessons and challenges of Green Energy Auction Program
On behalf of the Philippines, Gaspar G. Escobar, Ju., Chief of Technical Service, Department of Energy, presented experiences, lessons and challenges in conducting the Green Energy Auction Program. He spoke of the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that were being deployed by the Department of Energy to expand the share of renewable energy in the country. The National Renewable Energy Program 2020-2040 aims to increase the RE share to greater than 50% by 2040. The program has developed a holistic approach that integrates different RE transition pathways, enables RE off-grid strategies and resource specific programs.
Success Factors and key outcomes for the Green Energy Auction Program:
The program has developed a holistic approach that integrates different RE transition pathways, enables, RE off-grid strategies and resource specific programs. The conducive environment created through the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act and subsequent policies has led to the decreased costs of RE resulting in lower contracted generation rates. The Government took advantage of the low rates to launch the Green Energy Action Program in June 2022. The success rate of the Auction Program was 93% in which 18 bidders won, generating 1866.13MW RE capacity- 1 Biomass, 7 Solar, 4 Wind and 6 Hydropower.