Bangladesh considers funding for solar home system expansion

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The government of Bangladesh is considering providing interest-free loans to the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), the state body which finances solar home system installations across the country.

IDCOL, which started a solar home system program in January 2003, has financed the installation of 4.13 million PV systems and brought electricity to 18 million people who previously used kerosene lamps for lighting.

The organization wants to finance six million installations by 2021 to generate around 220 MW of electricity.

IDCOL usually takes loans from the government at 3% interest for its solar home system program with the Dhaka administration itself sourcing the funds at low rates from the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and other development lenders.

Bringing power to 12% of the population

Now, however, IDCOL has requested interest-free financing from the government to help further expand the solar home system scheme. Officials at the Ministry of Finance confirmed the government is considering the request.

IDCOL chief executive Mahmood Malik told pv magazine he believes the government is positively considering the proposal. “But I am yet to receive a formal letter to this regard,” he added.

Dipal C Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association told pv magazine the government may not be able to bring electricity access to people in remote areas without the help of IDCOL.

Barua said 5.5 million solar home systems are providing electricity to 20 million people – more than 12% of the population.

“The government should take this contribution into serious consideration and grant zero-interest loans to IDCOL which will help the further expansion of renewable power,” said Barua.

At present, 578.74 MW of electricity in Bangladesh is generated from renewable sources, with 344.48 MW from solar.

This article was amended on 20/05/19 to reflect IDCOL is aiming for a cumulative six million solar home systems by 2021, rather than six million new systems.