Bangladesh has ranked in the third-worst position among 23 Asian countries in terms of energy sustainability, with only its South Asian neighbours Pakistan and Nepal behind, said the World Energy Council, a United Nations-accredited body.
Bangladesh was placed at 87th position globally among 127 countries in the 11th edition of World Energy Trilemma Index 2021 that measures the countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through three core dimensions: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. The index was released last Thursday.
Bangladesh's overall trilemma score stood at 42.3 out of 100.
Regarding Bangladesh's global position, Mohammad Tamim, energy expert and professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said, "It is definitely not the position where we want to be. But the most important thing is whether we are heading towards the right direction [in terms of energy sustainability]."
"We are not environment-friendly to begin with, but in terms of energy equity we have definitely improved a lot because of bringing a significant number of people under electricity coverage," he added.
He further said, "Earlier, we focused on the quantity a lot by providing energy to a large portion of the population, but now it is time to focus on the quality. We need to improve energy transmission and distributions. It will take more time to do so."
The scores of the index range from 0 to 100, with 100 indicating the best performer in terms of energy sustainability.
Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark have again listed as the top three rated countries, with scores of 83 and above.
The report also highlighted the position of Asian countries, where New Zealand (9th), Japan (16th) and Australia (18th) lead the table.
Only nine out of the 23 Asian countries secured place among the top 50 countries on the list, while only New Zealand was ranked among the global top 10.
Meanwhile, Nepal (96th), Pakistan (90th) and Bangladesh (87th) were the worst performers in Asia.
The index also revealed a balance grade for each country which indicates how well a country manages the trade-offs of the trilemma with "A" being the best and "D" indicating the worst.
Bangladesh received an overall grade of "DDD" across the energy Trilemma dimensions in 2021.
Meanwhile, just nine countries managed to achieve "AAA" grades across the dimensions.
Bangladesh's performance across dimensions
Bangladesh has performed worst in energy equity among all pillars, which captures basic access to electricity and clean cooking fuels and technologies, access to prosperity-enabling levels of energy consumption, and affordability of electricity, gas, and fuel.
With a score of 34.5, the country came 89th in this gauge.
However, the report highlighted that Bangladesh has made continued and consistent improvements in its energy equity scores since 2000 and the country has been featured consistently amongst the top ten energy equity improvers over each five-year window in the index.
"We have enough access to energy, but the quality of it is not that good. Besides, the affordability of energy could be another reason for having the lowest score in energy equity," said Professor Tamim.
The country ranked 85th in energy security, with a score of 41. The pillar measured a nation's capacity to meet current and future energy demand reliably, withstand and bounce back swiftly from system shocks with minimal disruption to supplies.
Many countries in Asia rely heavily on energy imports, while demand is growing exponentially, which makes for a difficult situation, highlighted the report.
Professor Tamim, said, "Import dependency is one of the major reasons behind the country's poor score in energy security as countries with more dependency on imports are more insecure."
"Within 2030, 90% of our energy will be imported, that puts us into a very insecure country in terms of energy security. That is an area where it is very difficult to make progress," he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh achieved a score of 51.3 in environmental sustainability of energy systems and ranked 83rd globally. The environmental sustainability pillar represents the transition of a country's energy system towards mitigating and avoiding potential environmental harm and climate change impacts.
Professor Tamim said, "On the environmental side we are not as great as the Western countries, but we are also not the great polluter either. So we are in a balanced position," he added.
Last year, the country was in 94th position among 128 countries and 114th in the 2019 index.