Bangladesh government has undertaken a massive plan to set up high-capacity imported coal-based power plants to meet the growing demand for power by providing less expensive electricity. The government has a plan to generate around 20,000MW of coal-fired electricity by 2030 to meet the demand. But questions are being frequently raised about the coal-fired power plant project undertaken by the government. While wind and solar energy are replacing fossil fuels all over the world, Bangladesh can not but choose the path of renewable energy.
Use of coal is diminishing at the global level far sooner than once thought possible. Use of coal in the US is dropping. More than one-third of the nation's coal plants have already been closed or declared to be closed soon. China still consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined, but its usage fell in 2014, possibly signalling a peak in usage. While India has not committed to reduce its coal use, it recently doubled its tax on coal mines domestically or imported coal into the country, a revenue increase that simultaneously discourages the use of coal and encourages investment capital for solar generation. Although still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, South Africa has been quietly creating one of the world's most progressive alternative energy plans. Solar, biomass and wind energy systems are cropping up all over the country and feeding clean energy into the strained electrical grid. Canadian renewable electricity generation capacity grew to 89 Gigawatts, making Canada fourth in the world in generation of clean electricity. Canadian utilities have shut down about 4,600 Megawatts of coal based capacity in the last five years.
Many countries are already developing policies to design and implement this transition, fostering de-localised renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, geothermal, etc. But there is still a lot to be done by Bangladesh. Countries like Philippines are slow in taking up steps for renewable energy, mainly because of costs and political interests.
We have never had a better chance in history to break free from fossil fuels and build a positive transition to clean and renewable energy. Fighting climate change requires the courage to confront the most powerful polluters. For years, communities on the front lines have led that struggle, and this May, it is happening all over the world. We can join them because it is an unwise strategy for a nation to highly depend on coal-based power plants - more so for a nation that is consistently being rated as one of the most vulnerable countries to global warming.
The writer is a student of Law in South East University.
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