Vol. 5 Num 643 Mon. March 20, 2006  
Star City

Renewable Energy Research Centre
Remarkable progress despite lack of funds

Renewable Energy Research Centre (RERC) of Dhaka University (DU) has progressed remarkably in the renewable energy research field in the last 24 years despite insufficient funds and lack of governmental or non-governmental assistance.

"The allocation for the centre is less than the requirement, but research activities have been continuing," said Dr Nimchandra Bhoumik, the centre's director.

The allocation from fiscal 1991-92 to 2005-06 was above Tk 4.7 million, but the energy park received about Tk 2.1 million, sources said, adding that a major portion of the money they received was spent on officials and employees' salaries and allowances.

Prof SMA Faiz, DU's vice chancellor admitted the crisis in funds, but said: "We are fully aware of the Centre's situation and doing our best to reduce the shortages."

"We mostly depend on the government, and now shall have to mobilise our internal resources, and increase the source of income. The Alumni Association is engaged in different sectors of trade and commerce and will utilise the privileges that can be achieved from these sources to solve the problem," he added.

The centre's development and research work in last 24 years have been solar radiation, flat thermal collectors, concentrating parabolic collectors (CPC), solar water heaters, solar cookers, battery charge controllers, PV lantern design and fabrication, PV water pump, PV refrigerator, biogas, fast growing trees for biomass and tunnel for drying fish.

"Initially the centre concentrated on research in solar power and developed the solar water heater that can boil water up to 70 degrees," said Himangshu, a research fellow at the centre.

The solar cooker takes two and half to three hours to cook something. However, the centre developed a process to reduce electricity consumption while cooking during the rainy season. "An additional coil is required for the purpose," said Himangshu.

The centre also developed a process to dry fish using solar power.

RERC is currently implementing the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) project with support from the United Nations Environment Programmme (UNEP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF). Under the project, a digital map determining resource potential of solar and wind power in the country will be developed.

"The digital map will unearth a new window in the country's energy sector," said Dr Bhoumik.

People are now showing interest in the centre's research work, but Bhoumik said it was a matter of regret that some people think the centre is working on inventing something new related to the energy sector. "But our work is to research renewable energy and to develop it," he said.

The centre organises semi-nars and exhibitions each year to let people know the importance of matters related to renewable energy.

On March 24, RERC in association with Bangladesh Solar Energy Society will organise a one-day seminar titled, 'National Seminar on Renewable Energy' in Dhaka.

"The focus of the seminar will be on 'bio mass' or 'bio energy' and in this regard a national exhibition of renewable energy will be held from 24 to 26 March," said Himangshu.

The centre was established in 1981. Seven years later, in 1988 an energy park was established inside the centre premises.

"The park has been popular among people interested in renewable energy, thus it remains open all day long to attract and educate people" said a researcher.

When asked what they were doing to attract people to the field of renewable energy, Prof Bhoumik said: "Persons who want to obtain a PhD, M Phil and MSc in research are very interested in our work. The centre works as an information cell on the renewable energy for them."

"We also help many by providing necessary data. DU students and other universities too, come here to learn about the uses and utilisation of solar energy," he said.