Bangladesh plans to install 500-MW solar energy system by 2013

The plan is part of the government’s target to increase the contribution of renewable energy to the total power generation to 5.0 per cent from the existing less than 2.0 per cent.

At present, the country’s available power generation is about 5,000 MW while renewable energy is only 70 MW. The government has announced a plan to increase the total electricity generation to about 15,000 MW by 2015 and 5.0 per cent or 750 MW of the total amount should come from renewable energy.

Officials said it will require at least US$3.5 billion to generate 750 MW power from renewable energy sources. But so far, no fund, except a World Bank (WB) support of US$ 172 million, is available in the government’s hand.

The Washington-based donor agency has been providing the assistance for mainly solar home system that has been proved to a successful project to the people of country’s remote areas who do not have access to the national power grid.

But other than the WB assistance, there is hardly any available fund for implementation of the plan. In such a situation, Power Division officials said, the government is mulling involving the private sector in executing its programme.

In that case, about 340 MW renewable energy projects will be implemented on a commercial basis by the private sector while the government will only execute some social projects of 160 MW.

The commercial projects will include solar mini-grid, solar irrigation, solar rooftop and solar park installation. In the commercial projects, the private sector will manage fund of its own and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide partial risk guarantee (PRG) to promote and secure the private investment, said an official.

He said the ADB has already made its assurance for supporting programmes for 500 MW solar power in its Bangkok Conference last year where it placed a mega plan for installing 3,000 MW solar power plants in different countries across Asia.

Sources said the ADB is arranging a follow-up meeting next week in Bangkok where Bangladesh will place a concept paper regarding its plan for 500 MW solar power programme.

When contacted, Additional Secretary of Power Division Tapos Kumar Roy said the concept paper was prepared detailing the government’s plan about execution of 500-MW solar power system.