The Centre for Policy Dialogue, widely known as CPD, has proposed repealing the Quick Enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provision) Act 2010 to reduce the burden of additional expenditure on the government.
The leading local think-tank, at the same time, recommended that future energy and electricity policies should be based on renewable energy frameworks. It also called for backtracking on the initiative to recognise coal-based power as clean energy in the draft policy on renewable energy.
"The circumstances of the power sector in 2022 are different from that we faced in 2009. Hence, the speedy energy supply act is no longer needed," CPD Research Director Khandaker Golam Moazzem said at a media briefing at its office in the capital on Thursday.
"This [the act] is not just forcing the government to opt for inefficient ways to produce and supply energy, but also putting additional pressure on the customers," he added.
The potential of renewable energy in Bangladesh and global policies were discussed at the event, titled "New Renewable Energy Policy-2022 (Draft): Will it be able to meet the goal of clean energy".
The Quick Enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provisions) Act was framed with an aim to ensure uninterrupted power supply to different parts of the country at any cost. The special provisions of the law facilitated energy imports and allowed urgent extraction and utilisation of minerals related to energy.
The tenure of the special provisions of the law, enacted in 2010, was extended several times. For the last time in September 2021, the cabinet cleared a proposal for the extension of the act for another five years until 2026.
The CPD believes that if the government moves away from such acts, the country will get a competitive environment in the energy sector. "Electricity sector wastage in the name of capacity charge and its additional costs are added to the burden on consumers. Adopting a 'No Electricity, No Payment' system would have saved us from paying additional fees," Khandaker Golam Moazzem said.
Welcoming the fact that renewable energy is getting the attention of policymakers, the economist noted that there is a weakness in the implementation phase.
Calling for revisiting the energy security and the financial burden on the government, he said, "The overall progress of energy and power systems depends on the transparency and efficiency of agreements in these sectors."
The CPD researcher criticised the government for rapid increases in electricity and fuel prices in the name of urgent price adjustment, making the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission powerless. "This is a weakness of sustainable energy management."
On the new draft, he said framing renewable energy policy is a time-befitting initiative. "The policy reflects foresight thoughts about solar power, wind power, hydropower and other renewables. The targets of producing 10% of electricity from renewables by 2025, 20% by 2030 and 40% by 2040 are praiseworthy."
Lauding the draft for the provisions on institutional framework and some others, Golam Moazzem opined in favour of empowering the Sustainable And Renewable Energy Development Authority to approve 100/200MW power plants.
"Thirty-six renewable energy projects have been approved by the authorities, of which only 8 are in progress while the remaining 26 are not in operation. It is a matter of sorrow. The government should look into interested investors."
He also believes that renewable energy policies should include carbon emissions projections. "There is no clear initiative to attract investment in the renewable energy sector. Detailed plans for wind power should also be included. There is a need for a feasibility study in the field of biomass and biofuel."
The CPD proposes to use railway land, sandy river basins, and other lands not suitable for farming, for the production of renewable energy. It also proposed to launch an energy audit system. "Audits are needed to see who is using how much and whether energy is being used efficiently."
The think-tank also questioned whether it is the right time for Bangladesh to go for hydrogen-based electricity.
"If the use of fossil fuels is not discouraged, the production of renewable energy will not be encouraged. For this reason, incentives for fossil fuels should be reduced and incentives for renewable energy should be increased," Khandkar Golam Moazzem said.