Originally published in The Financial Express on 14 July 2023
A proposal for investment of $1.3 billion in an offshore wind project has reportedly been placed with the government by two Danish companies. If and when the project materialises, it will produce 500 megawatts (MW) of wind power. Of the two Danish companies, one is Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and the other one is Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP). What is particularly savouring is that the two companies come with a wealth of experience from a country considered not only the pioneer but also a global leader in wind energy. In fact, CIP and COP are the two leading renewable power companies in the world.
Bangladesh’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and the consequent energy crunch following the post-pandemic soaring price made worse by the Russia-Ukraine war have taught it a lesson or two. Also, the compulsion arising out of the climate change worldwide surely makes its option clear in favour of renewal energy. The country has already set a target of producing at least 40 per cent of its total energy from renewable and clean energy sources.
The problem here is the cost. Production of clean energy is still costlier. But as the technologies are advancing, the production cost is falling gradually. If large-scale renewable energy can be produced, the cost of production is likely to come down. Also the renewability of natural sources such as sun, wind and water reduces the cost over a far longer period of time than the conventional exploitation of fossil fuels that get at one point depleted when the investment fails to get any output.
The positive side of the two Danish companies’ proposal is that the location of the project will be in the Bay of Bengal coastal area. When the project takes off, it is going to bring about a paradigm shift in energy production in Bangladesh. In a land-scarce country, the installation of wind turbines of the project in the Bay of Bengal gives an additional advantage by not requiring any land area.
Bangladesh has so far concentrated on solar power. But even solar panels cover a significant ground area for a large plant. In case of wind power, there is no such problem particularly when those can be set up in coastal areas with practically no use for any other purpose. So this project proposal comes as a great relief. Once this goes into production, it will pave the way for establishing more such wind power plants. With a long stretch of coastal belt in the country, it can accommodate many more of its kind once it proves cost-effective. There is no reason why it won’t do so.
Not only does the project comes as an answer to the quest for an alternative energy source, it also opens an avenue to the country’s blue economy. With the energy made available on sustainable basis, more investments are expected in the area ranging from power production to deep-sea fishing and search for precious minerals under the seabed.
The Danish companies have also asked a local energy company to be its partner. This means the local company concerned will be able to become familiar with the technology and skills required for setting up such a renewable project. This is encouraging because through the collaboration, the process of technology transfer is most likely to happen. After all, there is need for building local capacity. At some point local companies will have to take over from foreign companies in order to set up more renewable energy plants and produce cent per cent clean energy for the country. The nation is looking forward to such a transition to renewable and clean energy in the future.