Bangladesh’s energy system is highly dependent on fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, which accounted for up to 55% of total primary energy use in 2017. Bangladesh has high domestic reserves of natural gas and doesn’t depend on imports. Natural gas and oil represented a higher proportion of primary energy demand in 2018 compared to 2010. Renewables, excluding traditional biomass, had a share of less than 1% in 2017 of total primary energy, with traditional biomass accounting for around 20% (mostly used for cooking).
To be aligned with 1.5°C compatible pathways, Bangladesh’s share of fossil fuels in primary energy would need to fall from its 2017 level of around 80% to 20-55% by 2050. This will include decreasing its share of natural gas, oil (mostly in the transport sector) and coal. Coal has an insignificant role in its current power mix, and its earlier plan of expanding coal capacity has been scrapped as of 2021 – 90% of the capacity expansion has been rolled back.
Decarbonisation of Bangladesh’s energy system by 2050 is heavily dependent on renewables uptake (to increase to ~40% of primary energy by 2040), specifically, shifting away from traditional biomass to variable renewables. Being an agrarian country, biomass is one of the potential renewable energy sources in Bangladesh. Major sources of biomass-based energy include agricultural crop residues, animal manure and municipal solid waste. In the absence of electrification of end use sectors, the use of biogas with improved cookstoves and biofuel in transport sector could reduce demand for fossil fuels., Our analysis shows that lower penetration of renewables would mean that Bangladesh would need to adopt carbon removal approaches such as land sinks or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to balance residual emissions.
While models show uptake of fossil with carbon capture and storage in Bangladesh, they represent a potential additional mitigation burden, as these high-cost systems are not yet available at scale and would still result in high residual carbon emissions that would need to be minimised with further efforts to reduce emissions and/or more negative emissions/carbon removal to compensate.
Recent rises in demand for all fossil fuels, especially natural gas, would need to begin declining as soon as possible if Bangladesh is to have any chance of forging a 1.5°C aligned energy system transformation.