Economy of Bangladesh · Industrialization

Saving electricity to meet the demand

Saving electricity to meet the demand

Md. Joynal Abdin and Engineer Md. Abu Taleb

The Financial Express on July 20, 2009

There is no alternative to industrialisation for ensuring full employment, increasing gross domestic product (GDP), augmenting export earnings and, finally, for alleviating poverty of a nation. But some prerequisites for industrialisation must have to be ensured before a country can expect rapid industrialisation. These are adequate infrastructural facilities, expedetious investment decisions from the government agencies, prompt hassle-free utility supply, stable political environment, business-friendly monetary and fiscal policies of the central bank and the government respectively, regulated law and order situation etc.

The foremost prerequisite for industrialisation is quick and hassle-free utility supply. Electricity is the most essential industrial utility. There is an acute shortage of electricity in our country now. To save electricity, we have advanced the clock by one hour. The measure has some positive effect but harms the retail business to a significant level.

There are two ways by which we can meet our electricity demand with our existing generation capacity. First, the government can take initiative to ensure 100% use of energy-saving lamps in every house of the country. Most houses at present use filament lamps which are of 50-100 watts. We can get the same lighting by using energy-saving lamps of six to ten watts. This will save much electricity.

The government can ban the use of filament lamps as was done in the cases of two-stroke three-wheelers and polythene bags in the past. It may be argued that energy-saving lamps are costly. It’s true. But if the government allows duty-free import of energy-saving lamps or the materials needed to produce such lamps and gives subsidy for a period of time, then these lamps may become cost-effective.

Secondly, if capacity bank is installed in the industries, there will be significant savings of electricity on account of industrial consumption. A capacity bank in a circuit can be used between our national line and meters of industries. It will help to regulate voltage and ensure the optimum use of electricity and save electricity consumption.

It is possible that the introduction of energy-saving lamps may save 80% of electricity now being used for domestic and lighting purposes and 20% of current industrial electricity consumption. Thus, we may meet our total demand of electricity with our present generation capacity. Here is a statistical justification of the claim. On July 5, 2009, the forecast maximum demand for electricity was 4400 MW and the generation was 3865 MW. So the deficit was 535 MW or about 12.5 %.

Suppose, 70% of our total consumption of electricity is industrial and the remaining 30% is for household or lighting purposes. Seventy per cent of the present 3865-MW generation is equal to 2705 MW. If we can save 20% industrial consumption through establishing capacity bank in the industries, then we are saving 20% of 2705 MW, that is 541 MW. If we can save 80% of (3865-2705 ) 1160 MW household consumption or consumption in lighting purposes, then we can save 928 MW electricity.

So by banning the use of filament lamps, using energy-saving lamps and making capacity bank mandatory for industrial establishments, we can save a total of (541+928) 1469 MW electricity per day. As our present deficit is 535 MW, we can get a surplus of (1469 – 535) 934 MW electricity from our existing production.

We may also try to increase the brightness of the LED lights through rigorous research. If we can produce 3000 lumen light from LED, then a revolution will be there. LED consumes the lowest amount of electricity to provide sufficient light. We can get help from China and Japan, our two friendly countries, in this endeavour. They undertook this project and made it commercially viable.

If filament lamps are banned, then the businessmen currently producing these lamps may face difficulties. But the government can help them through funds or other incentives to produce energy-saving lamps as well. We must sacrifice our small interests to get bigger benefit. 

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