IEEFA Report: Renewable Energy in Bangladesh Is Cheaper, Cleaner and More Secure Than Fossil Fuels

A Sensible Way to ‘Rapidly Eradicate Energy Poverty and Facilitate Health and Education Improvements Where They Are Most Needed’

CLEVELAND, Nov. 18, 2016 ( — The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) published a report today proposing a viable, modern and sustainable electricity-generation expansion in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, which has a population of almost 160 million, is among the most electricity-impoverished countries in the world and on the cusp of deploying an electricity-generation push that is tied to outmoded coal-fired generation.

The IEEFA Report—“Bangladesh Electricity Transition: A Diverse, Secure and Deflationary Way Forward”—describes an expansion that would be cheaper, cleaner and provide more energy security than the government’s current plans. 

Key findings of the report:

  • Fossil fuel subsidies and electricity-sector losses are a growing drag on economic growth in Bangladesh.
  • Current plans to double fossil fuel generation would instill a long-term dependence on fossil fuel imports, which would lead to more national debt, devaluation of the currency and an increase in inflation, all of which would destabilize the Bangladesh economy.
  • Bangladesh, by redoubling its efforts in deploying solar home systems, can take it’s world-leadership position on this front to the next level.

Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia, and lead author of the report, said, “Our research models an affordable, more sustainable and faster-to-implement alternative electricity plan for the coming decade. The key ingredients would enhance grid efficiency, energy efficiency and build a ten-fold increase in solar energy in all its forms.”

The report recommends that Bangladesh immediately target a 1GW annual utility-scale solar program that would see 10GW of cumulative capacity operational by 2024/25. It urges Bangladesh to re-evaluate its entirely subsidized plans for ever more imported thermal power capacity.

“The government’s ‘Access to Electricity for All by 2021’ campaign can be effectively delivered by redoubling efforts on the solar home system program,” Buckley said. “This will rapidly eradicate energy poverty and facilitate health and education improvements where they are most needed in rural Bangladesh.”

He noted that complementary solar irrigation systems can dramatically reduce the need for multibillion dollar grid extensions and reduce reliance on subsidized, imported diesel fuel.

The report takes special exception to the proposed 1320 MW Rampal plant, which is being built as a joint venture by the Governments of India and Bangladesh on 742 hectares of land located approximately 14 km from the boundary of the Sundarbans Reserve Forest (SRF), 4 km from the boundary of the Ecologically Critical Area (buffer zone of the SRF), and about 65 km from the closest boundary of the World Heritage site.  Financing pending from India Exim is in excess of US$1.7bn.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, a consortium of citizen and advocacy groups Bangladesh, said it strongly supports IEEFA’s model. In a statement, the group said, “It shows how a cost-effective long-term investment program that prioritizes renewable energy, grid and energy efficiency, and increased electricity imports from India and Bhutan, would best serve the country in terms of energy security in comparison to heavy reliance on fossil fuel and expensive grid infrastructure.”

“This approach would deliver a significantly larger, long-term cost-competitive energy supply and create a modernized plan that allows Bangladesh to adapt to climate change. We support a robust government endorsement of a transformational US$15-20bn investment program in renewables, smart grid and energy efficiency by 2024/25 because it is likely to find strong international financial system support that will develop a long-term deflationary energy supply.”

Advocate Sultana Kamal, convener of the National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans, said: “We call on the Bangladeshi government to adopt the recommendations without delay in order to create a more sustainable energy production system that is affordable, accessible, non-polluting, and resilient in the face of climate change.”

“We also call on the Indian government to partner with Bangladesh on the clean energy projects proposed by IEEFA rather than building the proposed coal-fired power plant at Rampal that will harm the Sundarbans and the people of Bangladesh. The lead announced this month by Adani Green Energy to build four plants with a combined 320MW of solar capacity perfectly illustrates the multi-billion dollar investment opportunities for expanded Bangladesh-India development.”

Full report here: “Bangladesh Electricity Transition: A Diverse, Secure and Deflationary Way Forward”

Media contacts

Sharif Jamil, Member, BAPA Core Group, Phone: +88 01715440413

Karl Cates, [email protected], 917.439.8225


The Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy and to reduce dependence on coal and other non-renewable energy resources.

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