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Government analysis uncovers disappointing figures, including coal-fired power output nearly tripling in 2023: 'Expected to increase further this year'

An increasing dependence on coal would not only reduce air quality but also set back efforts to limit rising temperatures.

An increasing dependence on coal would not only reduce air quality but also set back efforts to limit rising temperatures.

Photo Credit: iStock

One country set an unenviable record after almost tripling its levels of coal-fired power in 2023.

What's happening?

Reuters reported that Bangladesh turned to coal to help stave off power shortages and reduce costs associated with natural gas, oil, and imported diesel — all types of dirty energy

This resulted in a record 21 billion kilowatt hours of electricity being generated by coal, according to an analysis from the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh cited by the news outlet. 

"The share of coal is expected to increase further this year as a new unit is expected to get commissioned. Dependence on gas is expected to remain steady and use of liquid fuels will fall," a senior energy minister official said

Why is this concerning?

Coal is the most polluting type of fuel available. When it is burned, it releases fine particulate matter into the atmosphere that then makes its way into our lungs. 

These tiny particles have been linked to premature deaths, as "exposure to coal PM2.5 was associated with 2.1 times greater mortality risk than exposure to PM2.5 from all sources," according to a study published by Science.org. 

Like other types of dirty fuels, coal is driving the overheating of our planet. The rising temperatures have led to an uptick in extreme weather events leading to displacement and increased the range of disease-carrying pests, among other things. 

At this time, approximately 29% of global electricity comes from renewable, non-polluting sources, but as detailed by the United Nations, in order to prevent the "worst impacts" of a warming planet, that percentage needs to grow significantly.

To limit rising temperatures, as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the International Renewable Energy Agency recommends that 90% of electricity come from clean sources, such as wind and solar, by 2050.  

An increasing dependence on coal would not only reduce air quality but also set back those efforts. 

What is being done about this? 

Reuters reported that Bangladesh has its eye on doubling its ability to generate solar electricity this year, and it hopes to authorize the construction of a nuclear power plant.

While nuclear power is nonrenewable, unlike solar, it is a low-carbon energy that is commonly misperceived as having a higher safety risk than it actually does. 

The country also has plans to transition 40% of its grid to clean energy sources by 2041, according to Energy Tracker Asia, and it has brought solar power to more than 20 million people in rural areas. 

While every nation's energy transition needs are unique — with many islands, for example, needing creative solutions to effectively adopt renewables — Energy Tracker Asia wrote that "Bangladesh is a low-lying country with high solar irradiation levels, giving it the potential for large-scale PV farms."

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