Sub-standard PV equipment worries Bangladeshi solar developers

Share

Sub-standard solar modules and other PV equipment is becoming a major concern for the Bangladeshi solar industry.

Visitors to the 17th Solar Bangladesh Expo, taking place at the International Convention City Bashundhara this week, have spoken of a need to stop poor quality solar imports entering the country.

Shamim Ahsan, a visitor to the expo, told pv magazine most of the solar panels shipped to Bangladesh are of poor quality. “The efficiency of these panels is below … average,” he said, adding a national standard should be set and the import of sub-standard products halted.

The introduction of net metering in the country prompted several quality-related enquiries to exhibitors at this year’s show, from large building owners and potential industrial solar rooftop buyers.

Indian dumping

Nuher L Khan, MD of Bangladesh-based solar project developer Joules Power Ltd said interest in PV from private sector clients was at a record level. That was demonstrated, said Khan, by the low electricity tariff of $0.0798/kWh bid by a consortium of Saudi conglomerate Aljomaih, UAE-based water company Metito and Chinese developer Jinko for a 50 MW solar project at Rangunia. A rival group led by Joules Power offered $0.0875/kWh.

“These efficient pricing and investments from such leading local and international firms signify how important it is to deploy high quality equipment to maintain the asset quality over the 20 years span of the PPA [power purchase agreement],” said Khan.

While such low solar electricity tariffs will keep solar project commissioning similarly tight, it is important developers do not disregard quality in pursuit of ever lower bids, added the Joules Power MD.

Shahinur Nabi, a director of Bangladeshi clean energy business Sustainable and Renewable Energy Ltd (SREL), told pv magazine India is dumping low-quality solar panels over the border, and dubbed polycrystalline panels shipped by Bangladesh’s neighbor “a total waste”. Nabi said such products should be banned. “Solar panels having efficiency below 19% have to be blocked to save investment in [the] solar industry,” he said, adding SREL uses 410 W Trina Solar panels in its projects.

Failure rates

Quality concerns were also voiced by Debdeep Majumdar, project manager for engineering, procurement and construction services provider Exelon Bangladesh Ltd.

“It’s time for Bangladesh to join the rest of the world and recognize that a PV system, no matter the size, is a real power station that should last for decades,” said Majumdar. “Selection of Tier 1 modules with [the] correct BOM [balance of materials] can save investment and ensure project return. Nowadays we observe higher damp-heat failure rates in modules.” He added: “Inverters having no proper warranty contract leads to downtime [on] a project.”

The Bangladeshi government has already drawn up standards for solar panels, inverters, charge controllers and batteries and has taken steps to mandate its requirements.

A senior official at the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority said a proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Commerce to include solar panel, inverter, charge controller and battery standards in the country’s import policy order for 2018-2021.

This article was amended on 18/10/19 to reflect Shahinur Nabi’s comments were made directly to pv magazine.