Bangladesh’s first state owned solar project came online yesterday as prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed inaugurated the 7.4 MW facility in Rangamati district, built on 23 acres near the Karnaphuli hydropower plant. The installation lowered the cost of solar power in Bangladesh – which has hovered at $0.0749-0.101/kWh – as it will supply electricity for $0.065.
The prime minister used the occasion to pledge electricity would be supplied to all Bangladeshi citizens, either from the grid or from solar in off-grid areas.
Chinese company ZTE Corporation built the $13.25 million Rangamati plant with financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ZTE will maintain the facility for two years before handing it over to the government.
Project manager Abu Bakkar Siddique said 24,000 panels were used at the project, which is expected to supply electricity to the grid for 25 years.
The establishment of an ADB-funded 50 MW floating solar project at the nearby hydropower facility is also under consideration, said ATM Abduzzaher, an engineer at the Karnaphuli project.
The Bangladeshi government wants to generate 10% of its electricity from renewables next year. The new installation takes the nation’s installed solar capacity to 375.35 MW as part of a 609.29 MW renewable energy portfolio.
A shortage of land that is unsuitable for agriculture remains a barrier to solar deployment, according to Dipal C Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association, although rooftop solar is making strides, he added.
The government provided the development land for the Rangamati plant, Barua told pv magazine, but many would-be solar developers cannot identify appropriate sites.