Bangladesh has 1.6 million pumps, of which approximately 21% are electric-powered and the remainder diesel-powered.
Boro rice is central for achieving food security in Bangladesh and almost entirely irrigated using diesel pumps. Bangladesh spends approximately USD 2.6 billion per year on imported diesel. The country pledges to make a 20% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030. Renewable Energy Policy of Bangladesh, 2008 has set a target to obtain least 10% of its power needs through renewable sources by 2020.
Currently, Bangladesh has installed 573 MW of renewable energy, of which 339 MW is solar, and 28 MW comes from 1,337 solar irrigation pumps. Majority of the solar pumps are installed by IDCOL and the rest through a variety of sources, such as the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, Bangladesh Rural Electricity Board (BREB), and the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA)
IDCOL – our partner in SoLAR project, is the main financer and implementer of SIP programs in Bangladesh. Solar pumps installed through IDCOL are mostly in the northwest region of Bangladesh. These areas are also areas with less flooding, low arsenic levels, high boro cultivation, and a high density of diesel pumps.
Presentation by IWMI researchers at the SETI Annual workshop Archisman Mitra presented a paper titled State of Solar Irrigation in Bangladesh: Learnings for Solarization in off-grid areas in theSETI 2023 Annual workshopheld on June 16, 2023. As the title suggests, the context was set by talking about the water food energy climate nexus in Bangladesh. The presentation highlighted the fact that diesel dependency creates energy insecurity and puts a financial burden on the country and that diesel use in the agricultural sector contributes to roughly 3.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emission annually. Alternative models of solar irrigation were highlighted, and the mitigation benefits of SIPs reduced diesel use were explained. Also, multiple co-benefits of the IDCOL SIP model were explained as to how they are very convenient for buyers (lower cost, time savings for users, and underground pipes leading to savings in land and labour for creating field channels).
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says“the use of solar power should be increased and tax on solar panels can be lifted to encourage private sector investment in this sector.” After the meeting at the NEC Bhaban, Planning Minister M.A. Manan said that the prime minister has ordered a 100% transition to solar power for irrigation, instead of diesel. This commitment from the PM to replace all diesel irrigation pumps with solar is important since it is likely to have transformative effects on the groundwater market in Bangladesh, with wider implications on food security, groundwater sustainability, and energy security amongst others. Research reports and discussions with key stakeholders under the SoLAR project played a role in sensitizing the SoLAR policy environment in Bangladesh.
SoLAR Team Visits SIP Sites in Gaibandha, Birganj and Dinajpur A two-member team from SoLAR-SA, Bangladesh along with personnel from its partnering organization, IDCOL visited several SIP sites in the Gaibandha, Birganj and Dinajpur districts of Bangladesh from 11th to 13th February 2022. The purpose of the visit was to understand the operational mechanisms, design and technical details through interaction SIP operators and field partners.
IWMI’s First Monitoring Visit to SIP Implementation Sites in Bangladesh From 21st February to 1st March 2022 a two-member team from IWMI, SoLAR – Bangladesh visited 10 sites, five each in Northwest and Southwest Bangladesh. These visits were to monitor the progress of the implementation work carried out by NGO Forum, and to measure the flow rates of the SIP vis-à-vis the diesel pumps.