The Financial Express

Tapping alternative energy

| Updated: October 21, 2017 17:39:44

Tapping alternative energy
Bangladesh has no natural fuel, and natural gas reserves are limited and declining. Alternative sources of energy available from Nature, needs to be maximised. The government should provide all assistance needed to accelerate alternative source of energy by encouraging and supporting private as well as public initiatives. This can be done by setting up a number of small solar power stations connected to the national grid and provide sizeable power within the range of 70 to 100 megawatt in suitable locations in Bangladesh. 
Rooftop solar panels to generate solar power at the domestic level are already in use. One way of encouraging it would be for the PDB to buy this power from such installations at a rate in line with their own regular cost of power generation. This will not only encourage installation of more solar panels in urban locations, but will also enable the government to get pollution-free power without the need to buy and consume any fossil fuel for it!
Another regular fuel source is household waste that can supplement regular fuel and provide power around 20 to 30 per cent of the total plant capacity, the balance coming from conventional fuel. The extra cost involved will be in sorting, segregating and dumping off the unusable waste. This cost will not be more than the cost of traditional fuel that it will replace. On the positive side, it will reduce overall garbage disposal costs.
More promising is the generation of methane (natural gas) from human solid toilet waste. Not only will it eliminate the costs involved with the collection and disposal of this sanitary waste but also partially treat it and help save costs of dumping it into rivers. This will stop spreading germs of many dangerous diseases. Sadly, no one talks about this regular potentially unhygienic hazard, mixing in and polluting our river waters. In Thailand this was started around twenty back. Today it supplies around 80 per cent or so of the power generated in that country.
Power can also be tapped from many natural gas pressure reducing stations, where instead of a pressure reducing valve, a pressure reducing turbine can be used. That can provide fuel-free electric power. However, this is possible only near the gas well head, where large volumes of gases pass through pressure reducing stations. These are some of the potential sources of non-conventionally fuelled power available. 
The writer has over half a century of experience in industrial plants many of which had their own power plants and used 
PDB as standby source.

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