Solar power in Bangladesh: 1.2 million solar home systems

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate this new project on Saturday at Chittagong’s Sandwip upazila.

IDCOL executive director and CEO Islam Sharif on Friday told "The government had begun the installation project of solar home systems and biogas plants in the areas without electricity and gas under the solar power project in 2003 and the National Domestic Biogas and Manure Programme in 2006, respectively."

He said that under the solar power project, over 1.2 million solar home systems, capable of generating 65 megawatt of power, have been installed in those areas til now.

"At least six million people of those rural areas have electricity in their homes, this is 4.1 percent of the country’s total population," he said.

The new one million solar home systems will be capable of generating 50 MW. The installation programme is likely to be finished in the next two years.

Sharif said at least another five million rural people would have access to electricity after the programme was implemented.

The solar home system component of the government’s Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED) project is currently implemented by IDCOL’s 29 partner organisations, mostly non-government organisations (NGOs).

These organisations install the system at the consumer level after receiving aid or loan from IDCOL.

IDCOL has approved Tk 16 billion as loan and Tk 3 billion as aid to these organisations until December 2011.

IDCOL is running the project based-on credits and financial aid from foreign development organisations. The state-owned institution has received $406 million as loan and $54 million as aid from these foreign organisations to date.

Sharif said, "IDCOL’s solar power project has brought a positive change in the rural economy. This project has created opportunities for at least 70,000 people."

Suggesting the project was also playing an important role in promoting local technology, he said, "All the components of the solar home system, except the solar panels, are being manufactured in the country. Several panel fitting factories have also been set up in the country through IDCOL’s support."

The IDCOL CEO claimed that because of solar home systems the country was importing 100,000 tonnes of kerosene less each year, which is worth $90 million in the international market. "After the one million new solar home systems are installed, kerosene import will be reduced by around 100,000 tonnes more."

IDCOL, one of the top firms financing large and medium infrastructure development and renewable energy projects in the country, was set up under the Ministry of Finance in May 1997.


IDCOL executive director Islam Sharif said, "Under the biogas plants installation programme, 21,000 plants have already been installed, from which at least 100,000 rural people have access to gas."

"After the new 20,000 plants are installed in next two years, another 100,000 people will come under the system," he said.

The biogas programme is being implemented through 38 partner organisations, mostly NGOs and private companies, who have already received Tk 190 million as loan and Tk 160 million as aid from IDCOL.

The biogas programme is being financed by International NGO SNV-Netherlands Development Organisation, the German government’s development agency KFW, and IDCOL’s own funds.

SNV and KFW have provided €4.07 million and €8.06 million respectively as financial support.

Sharif said, "Dependency on firewood for cooking is reducing through the installation of biogas plants."