Bangladesh inaugurates largest solar rooftop


A Bangladeshi government minister has announced 40% of the nation's electricity will come from renewables by 2041.

Junior power minister Nasrul Hamid made the declaration yesterday, at an inauguration ceremony for Bangladesh's largest solar rooftop, a $16 million, 16 MW array in Chittagong. The government in March said it would reformulate its renewables policy after it fell well short of a target to generate 10% of its electricity from clean power by last year. Around 3% of Bangladesh's power came from clean sources at that point.

“Renewable energy will be the main source of energy in the future,” the minister said on Sunday, emphasizing the benefits offered by commercial solar rooftops. “The share of renewable energy is increasing in [the] fuel mix,” said Hamid, in part thanks to the rising popularity of net-metered solar arrays like the one installed at an export processing zone owned by Korean clothing and textiles company Youngone Corporation. Export processing zones are areas with less onerous customs and tax charges where manufacturing takes place solely for export.

The minister said plans to expand the Chittagong array to 40 MW next year would encourage other businesses to follow suit.

The politician stressed, however, that the big land requirements of large scale, ground-mounted solar plants would mean wind, tidal and energy-from-waste facilities would also have big roles to play in reaching the government's 2041 target.

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Youngone Corporation intends to expand its Chittagong project to around 40 MW of generation capacity, with 4.3 MW due to come online before November and the balance expected next year.

The intention is for all 34 factories at the Youngone export processing zone to be powered entirely by the eventual 40 MW of solar capacity. With the rooftop array net-metered, any excess power generated will be exported to the grid.

Lee Jang-Keun, South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh, said of the rooftop array: “This is how businesses can get along with nature and reduce the threat of climate change.”

Bangladesh has around 746 MW of renewable energy generation capacity and the first stage of the Chittagong array has taken the nation to 40.72 MW of net-metered rooftop solar.

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