Bangladesh must focus on local energy sources instead of increasing dependency on imports, said experts at a panel discussion on Thursday.
They were speaking at a programme titled "Energy Security for Sustainable Growth" at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka.
The discussion was part of a two-day conference organised by the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF). Panelists also agreed that future energy planning must be based on de-carbonisation and affordability, not solely on trade and commerce.
At the event, Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) Secretary Abul Mansur Md Faizullah said, "We need to put emphasis on our own sources to develop energy security. We have to increase our gas exploration programme."
"We can save our foreign currency and will able to provide affordable energy to the people if we get new gas fields both on-shore and off-shore," he added.
Faizullah continued, "We have set up two liquefied natural gas regasification units to increase the supply of gas in all sectors. However, if you look at the cost in the long run, it has become a burden for the country's economy."
"The price of LNG is linked to the price of oil. Once the oil price increases, it is quite natural for the LNG price to go up too," he further said.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization's representative for India and South Asia, Van Berkel Rene said, "The future of energy will be de-carbonised and low-carbon growth. It is also an important indicator of energy security."
"Energy security includes multiple approaches, not just future expansion of the sector. It starts with the efficient use of energy in all areas including transmission, distribution and generation," he added.
He pointed out that Bangladesh's system loss in power distribution is 50 percent higher than the world average.
Dr Tika Limbu, head of the Portfolio Management Unit of the ADB, said, "For a sustainable energy sector, a country must have a deregulated market where marketers, operators, system operators and grid operators will have open access."
"In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Power Development Board is the only buyer. My thought is that the energy sector should be operated through a Bangladesh Power Market Operator, where suppliers and producers will place competitive bids," he further said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Bangladesh Development Bank Ltd (BDBL), Mohammad Mejbahuddin, said, "There is a mish-mash in planning and reality in the power sector because the government is spoon-feeding the private sector.
"Some power companies are taking capacity payment without producing enough energy. This practice is ultimately damaging the government. On the other hand, the government should not expand the power grid to remote areas where renewable energy is working more effectively. This move should be avoided at any cost."
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the power, energy & mineral resources adviser to the prime minister chaired the session. Meanwhile, Power Division Secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed, and Energy and Mineral Resources Division Joint Secretary Nazmul Ahsan presented separate keynote papers.
Among others, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission's Chairman Monowar Islam and General Manager of ITFC of the Islamic Development Bank Group Abdi Hamid spoke at the session.