Solar power lights up Bangladesh central bank

DHAKA Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:41pm IST

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DHAKA (Reuters Life!) - Bangladesh's central bank has switched over to solar-powered lighting, in a move to encourage green energy in a country drastically short of electricity, bank officials said.

The bank has spent around 13.5 million taka ($195,000) on a solar power plant that will generate 8 KW of electricity a day.

"It is not possible to meet the country's fast-growing power demand only using gas and coal. So we have to go for alternative energy resources," central bank governor Atiur Rahman told reporters late on Tuesday.

"From now on, we will light up our offices with solar energy and spread the message across so more people follow suit."

Bangladesh has recent taken a number of measures, including rush-hour rationing of power, to deal with a shortage the World Bank estimates costs it up to 2 percent in GDP growth each year.

Currently renewable energy contributes less than 1 percent to overall power generation in this south Asian country of more than 150 million people, barely 45 percent of whom have access to electricity.

The central bank last year launched a 2 billion taka ($29 million) refinance scheme for renewable energy in an effort to help ease a power and gas supply crisis and reduce pollution.

About 80 percent of electricity is produced from natural gas, with state-owned and private sector power plants only able to generate up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity a day against a demand of 5,500 megawatts.

The government says it is exploring various means, including nuclear power generation, to overcome the problem, which is one of the key constraints to growth.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Alex Richardson)

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