Bangladeshi manufacturers have been echoing complaints made by similar solar industries in the EU, United States and India, that it is impossible for them to compete against a rising tide of cheap solar imports. However, in a twist to the tale heard elsewhere, it is products made over the border in India – as well as in China – which have attracted the ire of domestic manufacturers.
With solar project developers reportedly also complaining poor quality products are threatening the sustainability of the Bangladeshi solar market, the government has unveiled Bangladesh Standard requirements for solar imports.
The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) has demanded PV modules imported to the country must meet International Electrotechnical Commission standards IEC 61215:2016, IEC 60904-1:2013, IEC 60904-2:2013 and IEC 60904-9:2013. Inverters must meet IEC 62109-1:2016 and IEC 62109-2:2016, charge controllers must attain IEC 62509:2016 and batteries must fulfill the requirements of IEC 61427-1:2016.
With two laboratories thus far approved to test imports, more will be accredited in due course.
With industry insiders complaining India – the second largest source of solar imports behind China – has been dumping low-quality products in Bangladesh, the domestic solar manufacturing industry will hope to fill any gap in the market prompted by the application of product standards.
Munawar Misbah Moin, president of Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh, said nine domestic companies give the nation a combined annual module production capacity of 100 MW. Bangladeshi producers currently hold around 20% of the local market, with their products achieving power output of up to 320 W at an efficiency of up to 19.5%, according to Moin. “The opportunity for local manufacturers will be doubled as sub-standard accessories will be barred,” he said. “A level playing field for good quality solar equipment manufacturers will be created due to the setting of product standardization.”
The setting of standards will also be good news for project developers, said Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association president Dipal C Barua, even if it does raise project costs and eat into profit margins.
“If we use sub-standard products, which within a couple of years will lose their efficiency, [that] will ultimately put the sector at risk,” Barua told pv magazine. That is because the wide availability of sub-standard products may have acted as a deterrent to investors, he said.