Barriers to Overcome in Accelerating Renewable Energy Penetration in Bangladesh

Author: Hasan Mahmud and Joyashree Roy

Abstract: In the context of the global need for the accelerated penetration of renewable sources in the energy mix, it is important to understand how fast-growing countries such as Bangladesh can participate in the global process by sequencing or combining actions to overcome multiple national-level barriers. This study analyzed how national-level barriers interact with one another with a view to better understanding in what order they can be approached in order to overcome them. Interpretive structural modeling was applied for the identification of the interactions among the barriers. The barriers identified from a context-relevant literature survey were cross-validated through in-country expert consultation. Policy makers and the research community were consulted using unstructured as well as structured questionnaire survey methods. The cross-impact matrix multiplication applied to the classification method was used to validate the interactions identified. The results indicated that it is possible to follow a systematic approach to overcome the barriers. The findings show that the highest priority is the need to revisit the current top-down process in policy and governance in the energy sector in Bangladesh. By making room for new institutional arrangements and the strategic role of local experts, stakeholders such as manufacturers, businesses, and users can create a sociopolitical environment that makes it possible to break the current inter-linked chain of barriers. Revisiting the current fuel-specific design and allocation of subsidies and the tariff structure is necessary. Simultaneous supplementary efforts towards human capacity building, the creation of a database for both the demand and supply sides of renewable energy, and improvement in coordination across institutions could be helpful. There is a need for the development of a technology-specific research and development infrastructure to encourage local innovation and business model development. Attention needs to be paid to raising scientifically informed public awareness for the uptake of renewable energy in Bangladesh.
Keywords: Bangladesh; barrier analysis; interpretive structural modeling (ISM); policy; renewable energy; sustainable development

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