Narayanganj city in Bangladesh is committed to improving its air quality and contributing to the national government’s goals of increasing the use of renewable energy sources. Taking concrete steps to implement climate-resilient actions on-ground, Narayanganj is introducing sensors for monitoring air quality and rooftop solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) systems through two pilot projects under the Urban-LEDS II project.
Air quality monitoring for evidence-based management and creating public awareness: Narayanganj city is a historic centre of trade and commerce, located about 17 km to the southeast of the capital of Dhaka, near the Dhaka-Chittagong highway and the confluence of the rivers Shitalakshya and Buriganga. The port of Narayanganj is among Bangladesh’s oldest, most famous, and busiest river ports, making it an important industrial centre of the country.
However, the city has been facing environmental degradation issues, following rapid economic development and industrialisation. In fact, it has among the highest urban air pollution levels in the country, with its air quality index frequently touching hazardous levels. While assessing the city’s climate risks and vulnerabilities, declining air quality was identified as a major environmental issue. Therefore, Narayanganj has embarked on a pilot project to install Ambient Air Quality Monitoring systems (AAQMS), which will enable policymakers and planners to implement evidence-based air quality management practices and create public awareness.
As a preparatory baseline assessment for the pilot project, the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) along with ICLEI South Asia conducted site surveys and technical feasibility studies to identify suitable locations for siting the pilot installations. Three locations – Chasara intersection, Bangabandhu Park, and Sheikh Rasel City Park – have been shortlisted for the installation of the AAQMS. An LED display board will be set up at the NCC main administrative building to share air quality information and generate awareness within the community. The sensors, to be mounted on nine-foot-high poles, will monitor the levels of pollutants, including NO₂, SO₂, CO₂, O₃, particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10, and TPS), along with parameters such as temperature, relative humidity, and noise. The air quality data will also be recorded and can be accessed online. A portable air quality monitoring device will be provided to help monitor real-time air quality at different locations in the city and take corrective actions.
The pilot project is being implemented by an India-based provider of smart air quality systems, supported by a local partner in Bangladesh. The sensors have been procured and shipped to Bangladesh, with preparatory technical site assessments underway to commence civil and electrical work for the installation.
Rooftop solar photovoltaic systems on public buildings: In Narayanganj, electricity consumption in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings contributed to 30% of the city’s total GHG emissions in 2018-19. To showcase renewables as an effective alternative and clean source of energy, the NCC has initiated the installation of rooftop solar PV systems on two public buildings, supported by the Urban-LEDS II project. This pilot project not only intends to create public awareness but also demonstrate the feasibility and contribute to the national efforts on increasing renewable energy adoption, especially solar PV systems that are emphasised in the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The NCC, with support from ICLEI South Asia, has identified two public buildings for the installation of rooftop solar PV systems – the Ali Ahammad Chunka Nagar Library (a public library and community centre) and the Urban Public Healthcare Centre at Bandar – through a technical feasibility study.
At the Public library building, a grid-tied rooftop solar PV system of 11.76 kilowatts (kWp) size will be installed along with a net-metering capability. The Healthcare Centre located at Bandar faces frequent power cuts. Therefore, an off-grid rooftop solar PV system with lithium-ion batteries will be established to improve the centre’s resilience. This off-grid system of 11.76 kWp with batteries will help provide backup to critical loads. A solar PV systems supplier from Bangladesh will undertake the pilot implementation at both locations and the system components are currently being procured.
The successful completion of these pilots will capacitate city officials in monitoring air quality, formulating necessary strategies and policies for improving air quality, demonstrating the benefits of adopting renewable energy sources, and raising public awareness in building a healthy, low-carbon, and climate-resilient Narayanganj city.