Christmas Day could usher in Bangladesh’s biggest solar field


A solar project in Bangladesh which took shape after plans for a coal plant were blocked over environmental and heritage-site concerns, could start commercial operation on Christmas Day.

The 100 MW, $196 million solar field, installed near the port of Mongla, will be the nation's largest to date and began a trial run of generating full load a week ago.

Withe the testing run producing “satisfactory” results, project manager Mehedi Islam Aneek said commercial operation will begin on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the weather.

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The 280-acre site was developed by the Energon Renewables unit of Bangladeshi industrial conglomerate Orion Group which, in February 2019, secured a 20-year agreement from state body the Bangladesh Power Development Board to buy the electricity to be generated at the site for $0.138/kWh.

MM Ahsan Huda, Bangladesh country manager for Chinese solar manufacturer Longi, said the project features 250,000 Longi Solar Hi-MO5 panels.

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Compatriot manufacturer Sungrow supplied the project's central inverter with the Singapore unit of Swiss electricals company ABB supplying the rest of the electrical equipment. Mumbai-based Mahindra Susten acted as the owner's engineer and project management consultant.

Original plans for a coal plant on the site were shelved because of its proximity to the Sundarbans. The world’s largest mangrove forest is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

With the Bangladeshi government aiming to use renewables to generate 40% of its electricity by 2041, and all of its power by mid century, it is estimated the Mongla project will take the country to 877.31 MW of clean power generation capacity.

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