Bangladesh’s economy is predominantly agricultural, generating around 63% of total employment, with over 70% of the population living in rural areas. In 2010, the agricultural sector accounted for 20.1% of GDP. According to the FAO, the country’s mixed farming system has led to close interdependencies between crop production and animal husbandry, with livestock having pronounced status as providers of food, nutrition, savings, draught power, manure, transport and other social and cultural functions.
Bangladeshi citizens also suffer disproportionately from malnutrition. Half of Bangladeshi children under five are chronically malnourished, leading to lifelong growth complications, and 30% of the population is below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption. Dairy products are important to providing caloric and essential vitamin intakes for both children and adults, and while bovine livestock is common, inefficiencies and waste lead to significant unmet demand, currently filled with expensive imported dairy in mostly condensed form.
Transitioning Bangladesh’s mostly subsistence-level dairy production to market-oriented units requires improvements in knowledge and technology, and access to energy.
While milk production has doubled in 10 years, domestic supplies are still lagging, and as a result Bangladesh imports most of its dairy needs in condensed form. Domestic milk collection and related needs for power for cooling is expected to increase, and dairy processors are seeking alternative energy options to reduce costs and mitigate risk from frequent power outages.
Solar power offers an opportunity to decrease costs of milk collection and increase reliability of power supply. At the same time, cooling provides a critical service to smallholders farmers and directly impacts supply, and therefore food security. Enerplus is working with a pioneer of the dairy hub concept, PRAN Dairy, to retrofit existing diesel-powered cooling units with solar PV units and build new collection centers incorporating renewable energy sources.
The market for dairy cooling could be avoiding close to 12,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030 by shifting from diesel gensets to solar PV and other (e.g. biogas) renewable sources. At the same time, cooling provides a critical service to smallholder farmers and directly impacts dairy supply – and thus food security and related health and well-being outcomes in the country.
The innovative idea involves the use of RE like solar PV, solar thermal absorption chillers, ice storage, solar water heaters or biomass gasifier or biogas to replace the use of gensets (30-35% of the time) and grid electricity, which would power milk cooling compressors during the receiving process, as well as mini-grids for nearby public facilities such as schools, clinics, and houses and water pumping stations for irrigation combined with energy efficiency improvements like demand management including replacing electric geysers for hot water cleaning. The solution will increase the availability, as well as quality, of fresh domestically produced milk in Bangladesh through increase in number of milk collection centres and increase in production at the existing centres.
Clean Energy in the Agrifood Value Chain
Commercial Process Innovation