Raach Solar and its Power Utility Bangladesh Ltd local partner have landed two contracts to supply more than 700 pumps in the north-western Bogra district, with the Asian Development Bank footing the bill.
The government has finally issued guidelines on how solar-powered irrigation system owners can be paid for exporting power back to the grid. However, for those who expect to have to use grid power to augment solar from time to time, there could be a sting in the tail.
Time is running out for the government to achieve its goal of universal access to electricity by next year but Dhaka has doubled down by allocating $26 million for PV panels in hard-to-reach areas.
The companies driving the solar home system boom in the nation, in part with the help of public money, wants Dhaka to authorize the addition of PV in 18,000 public health facilities.
Installers which took advantage of cheaply-priced government finance say customers affected by the Covid-19 crisis cannot afford to pay for the solar home systems they have rolled out while expanding renewables programs.
A scheme to install solar lighting and household power, as well as biogas and solar cookers and larger PV plants, has already driven deployment of more than 1.2 million systems. Now the government wants more partners to join the program.
Industry figures indicate the expansion of the Bangladeshi grid is hitting demand for the solar home systems which have traditionally generated power for homes formerly out of reach of the electricity network.
Firming up the payment system for solar energy exported back into the grid from PV-powered pumps will offer owners a new revenue stream, eat into a $1 billion annual diesel fuel bill and reduce strain on the grid by up to 1.5 GW daily during the agricultural season.
The affordable public financing packages on offer for solar rooftops are attracting developers who have clients happy to lease out roofspace without any capital outlay in order to secure cheaper power.
The authorities expect to add 300 MW of rooftop solar in the next four years thanks to net metering regulations and hope the nation’s extensive clothing and textile industry will be encouraged to adopt PV.
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