Monday, September 24, 2018 | ePaper

Most solar power plants fail schedule

Entrepreneurs demand subsidy from climate fund in solar mini-grid area

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Anisul Islam Noor :
Bangladesh became a pioneer in home-based solar system in the world but the country is lagging behind in grid-based solar power plants.
Though the government signed more than fifty agreements so far for setting up grid-based solar power plant projects, 90 percent projects failed to start due to lack of land acquisition and required knowledge on grid based solar generation, experts said.
Most of entrepreneurs have not been able to manage the project fund yet since they could not come up with a convincing details of the project for the banks and other financials institutes. They failed to explain how much electricity will be generated and whether or not the investment will be a safe and profitable one.
As a result, the government's plan to supply electricity in off-grid areas in the country has been facing serious challenges.
The entrepreneurs urged the government to provide subsidy for solar power to reduce its cost to he reach of consumers from climate change fund as solar mini grid supplies electricity to climate affected people.
Power Division set a target for generating 253 MW electricity from solar power in 2016. However, a single megawatt of electricity was produced from those projects in scheduled time. In 2017, the target was to generate 190 MW, it was possible to connect only three megawatts of electricity to the grid. It is the country's first grid-based solar power plant.
Talking to the concerned, the shortage of grid-based solar power projects is one of the reasons for the inadequacy of land. Besides, the solar power project is not progressing because of the lengthy process of government approval for acquisition of land.
According to the power sector master plan, the target was to add around 1403MW electricity from solar by 2021. Of this, 200 MW in 2018, 180 in 2019, 190 in 1920 and 2021 in 195 MW.
Since 2011, about a dozen of companies have been assigned solar power projects. But most of the project projects have not started yet. Many entrepreneurs signed the deal but they moved away later. The initiative was taken to set up the country's first grid-based solar power plant in Phulpur, Mymensingh. The electricity development board (PDB) signed a contract with a private company in December 2011 for 18-megawatt solar power station. Later the company moved away from the project. For this reason, most of the solar power projects have not seen the light of dawn.
Finally, on September 18 this year, the country's first solar power project came into being. Three megawatt of electricity from the project of Nargin Sarishabari Solar Plant Ltd. in Sarishabari of Jamalpur is supplied to the national grid.
PDB's 60 MW project in Rangunia in Chittagong is also stuck due to land acquisition complexity. Thus, most of the solar power projects of the government's plans are pending for various reasons.
According to sources, four acres of land is needed to set up a megawatt solar panel. In that case, 400 acres of land is required for 100 MW. It is a big challenge to settle this huge amount of land in a densely populated and agriculture-based country like Bangladesh.
Siddique Zobair, a member of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), told The New Nation basically the work of grid-based solar power projects is not going forward for two reasons. One reason is that many places are needed to do a solar station. On the other hand, banks do not provide loans for investment.
Dhaka University's institute power is working for a long time for solar power. Professor Saiful Haque, Director of the Institute, told there are three problems for big projects of solar power. The issue is new here. To do this, lots of land is needed. In most cases, those who submitted the plan had no land.
Besides, irregularities were also seen in the awarding of projects. Although many organizations work on producing solar power, they have no prior experience. Some organizations have also got work on political considerations. There are enough doubts about whether these institutions will implement the projects at all.
Another big reason why solar power is not popular in Bangladesh is its high price. The cost of electricity per unit is estimated to be Tk15. But in the neighboring country, every unit of solar power generation is Tk 5 to 7, according to a research report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Study on Energy Security.

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