It is gratifying to learn that Bangladesh is number one in the world in terms of installing Solar Home Systems (SHS), with four million of the systems installed so far. Besides noting this, a report brought out by the Paris-based energy think-tank REN21 also reveals that Bangladesh is at the forefront of nations using clean stoves and biogas plants.
These are really good achievements for the country as there has been a growing awareness all over the world about the environmental hazards of burning fossil fuels to generate energy. Environmentalists are rightly advocating an increasing use of renewable energy as a safer and potential alternative to fossil fuels, considering its positive environmental impact.
However, for a country like ours, prioritising renewable energy is extremely important. Expansion of renewable industry can create huge employment opportunities for unemployed people and thus can be an excellent option to boost the country's economy. Besides, by laying more emphasis on renewable energy and using domestic renewable energy sources instead of importing foreign fossil fuels, we can significantly improve our energy security and energy independence.
We are happy that our government rightly understands the importance of promoting the use of renewable energy in the country. Bangladesh's topping the world in SHS installation is a testimony to the fact that the country is making progress in this respect.
Still, there are lot more that we need to do in this respect. This is because even after the huge surge in numbers of SHS installation in recent years, renewable energy's contribution is still merely 2.86 percent of the total power generation in the country. It is also lamentable that about 60 million people in Bangladesh have no access to electricity. In this situation, use of renewable energy, particularly solar energy, can be of great help.
The government needs to keep facilitating the sector. But the proposal for imposing 15 percent VAT on solar panels in the budget for this fiscal year will not help the cause. This may discourage people from installing solar home systems. Therefore, we would urge the government to reconsider its decision to impose VAT on solar panels.
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