Solar brings safe water to Bangladeshi coastal communities

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Solar power is helping to bring safe water to thousands of Bangladeshi coastal residents without access to grid electricity, under a contract worth almost $5 million with Australia’s F Cubed.

The Bangladeshi government will pay for the installation of 1,140 solar-powered water desalination units across 16 coastal districts. The 500 W systems – which each drive a 0.5 hp (373 W) water pump – are intended to eventually bring safe water to around 30,000 people under the Safe Water Supply Project Through Environment-Friendly Solar Desalination Unit program, which is run by the nation’s Department of Public Health Engineering.

About 40 such systems have already been installed and district tenders are under way for a further 1,000 of the remaining installations. Companies that successfully tender to install and maintain the systems in each district for three years will work with units supplied by F Cubed.

A big deal

With each system costing $4,355, the contract is worth more than $4.96 million to the Victoria-based supplier.

Bangladesh is on the front line of the battle against climate change, as rising sea levels have polluted many pond and tube wells in coastal areas with seawater. Government officials say the water in many such areas is also polluted with arsenic and salinity levels are constantly rising.

A senior official from Bangladesh’s Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority told pv magazine that 152 solar-powered drinking water systems had been installed in the country to date under different initiatives.

Bangladesh has around 628 MW of renewable energy generation facilities, including around 314 MW of solar capacity. Half of the nation’s clean energy is generated off-grid.