What Is The Current Solar Project In Bangladesh?

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with a population of over 160 million people. Yet, access to electricity remains a major challenge, with over 20 million people still lacking access to power. Bangladesh has historically relied on natural gas for over 75% of its electricity generation. However, gas reserves are declining rapidly. Load shedding and power shortages are common, hurting households and businesses. Renewable energy, especially solar power, offers a sustainable solution to meet the country’s growing energy needs while also providing clean electricity access to rural communities.

Bangladesh has abundant solar energy potential, receiving an average of 4-6.5 kWh/m2 per day of sunlight. Solar PV systems can help diversify the energy mix and reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels. The government aims to generate 10% of electricity from renewables by 2020 under its Renewable Energy Policy. Large-scale solar projects will be key to achieving this vision and providing affordable, reliable electricity access for all.

Solar Energy Potential in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is located in an ideal region to harness solar power due to its tropical climate. The country receives abundant sunlight throughout the year, with average solar insolation of 4 to 6.5 kWh/m2 per day. This is comparable to solar radiation received in the sunniest parts of the world like Africa, Central and South America.

Bangladesh’s geographic location near the equator gives it a significant advantage for solar energy generation. The sun’s rays arrive at a perpendicular angle, minimizing reflection and maximizing absorption. This results in excellent conversion efficiencies for solar panels installed in the country.

Studies estimate the total solar energy potential in Bangladesh at over 200,000 megawatts. Just 1% of the country’s land area could theoretically power the entire nation through solar energy. This demonstrates the tremendous untapped potential Bangladesh has to utilize solar power for meeting its rising energy demands.

Previous Solar Projects

Bangladesh has made steady progress in adopting solar energy over the past decade. Some key solar projects implemented previously include:

In 2008, Grameen Shakti installed the first large-scale solar energy system, a 50 kW installation, in Patuakhali district. This demonstrated the viability of solar in powering rural communities.

The government established the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) in 1997 to promote renewable energy. Through IDCOL’s Solar Energy Program, over 5 million solar home systems have been installed in rural areas of Bangladesh as of 2018.

The state-owned Power Development Board commissioned the country’s first grid-connected solar power plant in 2013, a 3 MW installation in Comilla. A couple years later, two 5 MW solar plants were installed in Mymensingh district.

Bangladesh’s largest solar farm at the time, a 28 MW project, was developed by Joules Power in 2017. This plant sold electricity to the national grid.

So while Bangladesh started relatively small in solar adoption, installed capacity expanded rapidly throughout the 2010s. This paved the way for even more ambitious solar projects to meet the country’s growing power demand.

New Mega Solar Project

Bangladesh has embarked on a new large-scale solar energy project that will significantly boost the country’s renewable energy capacity. The project, located in the Feni district, involves the construction of a 100MW solar power plant over 500 acres of land. When completed in 2023, it will be the largest solar energy facility in Bangladesh.

The $140 million project is being developed by Sungrow, a Chinese solar manufacturer and inverter supplier, in partnership with Bangladeshi infrastructure company North-West Power Generation Co. Ltd (NWPGCL). The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) will purchase electricity generated from the plant under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement.

The solar park will utilize high-efficiency monocrystalline PERC solar panels supplied by Sungrow. The company will also provide its central inverter solutions for the plant. The project is expected to generate over 160,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to power over 120,000 households. This will offset over 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $100 million loan and $2.3 million technical assistance grant to fund the project. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) are co-financing the solar park as well.

Project Details

The new mega solar power project in Bangladesh will have a generation capacity of 1,000 megawatts. It is located in the Chattogram region in southeastern Bangladesh. Construction on the project started in 2022, and it is expected to be completed in phases by 2025. The total budget for the project is estimated at around $1.5 billion USD.

The project will utilize high-efficiency solar panels and single-axis tracking technology to maximize power generation. Once operational, it will be one of the largest solar power plants in South Asia. The electricity generated will help meet the growing power demand in Bangladesh and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Technology Used

The solar panels being installed in the new mega solar project in Bangladesh will utilize monocrystalline technology. Monocrystalline solar panels are made from silicon ingots, which are cylindrical blocks of ultra-pure single crystal silicon. This technology results in the highest efficiency rates compared to other panel types but is also more expensive.

The solar panels for the project are expected to have efficiency rates of around 20%, meaning they can convert 20% of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. The total solar module capacity for the project will be approximately 100 megawatts.

In addition to the solar panels, advanced inverters will be installed. These inverters will convert the direct current electricity from the solar panels into alternating current that can be used for the electrical grid. The inverters are designed for utility-scale applications and will have capacities matched to the solar array configuration.

The combination of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels and robust inverters suitable for large-scale solar farms will enable the project to maximize energy generation. The technology utilized will be on par with top solar installations globally.

Project Developers

The new mega solar project in Bangladesh is being developed through a partnership between several companies. The lead developers are:

  • Zhejiang JinkoSolar Co., Ltd – A major Chinese solar panel manufacturer that is providing the photovoltaic modules and acting as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

  • Pritilata Sonali Ltd – A subsidiary of the Bangladeshi conglomerate Pritilata Group that is co-developing the project.

  • PowerPac Economic Zone Limited – A Bangladeshi infrastructure company that is providing land and local expertise.

Once constructed, the solar power plant will be owned and operated by the Bangladesh-China Power Company (PBCP), a joint venture between the Bangladesh Power Development Board and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation.

Project Financing

The new mega solar project in Bangladesh is being financed through a combination of domestic and international sources. The Bangladeshi government is providing $500 million in funding for the project through its infrastructure development budget. An additional $600 million is being provided in loans from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. These loans have low interest rates and long repayment periods to make the project financially viable.

The project is also utilizing foreign direct investment from international solar developers. The Chinese company Trina Solar and the Saudi firm ACWA Power are jointly investing $1 billion in the project. Their equity investment helped attract the financing from the multilaterial development banks. Private capital from these experienced solar developers covers around 40% of the project’s $2.5 billion total cost.

Furthermore, the project qualified for a $50 million grant from the Green Climate Fund. This global environmental fund focuses on assisting renewable energy projects in developing nations. The grant does not need to be repaid and helped provide the final piece of funding to get the solar park fully financed.

Project Benefits

The new solar project in Bangladesh will provide numerous benefits for the country. Most notably, it will significantly increase Bangladesh’s solar power generation capacity. The project is slated to add 560 MW of solar capacity, which will more than double the country’s current solar capacity of about 304 MW. This will help Bangladesh meet its rapidly growing electricity demand in an environmentally sustainable manner.

In addition to increased capacity, the project will create jobs and economic opportunities. Thousands of jobs will be created during the construction phase, providing employment opportunities for local communities. Once built, the solar plants will still require workers to operate and maintain the facilities. The growth of the solar industry will also stimulate economic activity and development in the surrounding regions.

There are also important environmental benefits. By generating clean renewable energy, the solar project will help lower Bangladesh’s reliance on fossil fuels. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Over the lifespan of the project, millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions could potentially be avoided. Promoting solar energy aligns with Bangladesh’s climate change mitigation efforts under the Paris Agreement.

Future Outlook

Bangladesh has big plans to continue expanding its solar energy production in the coming years. The government aims to generate 10% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this goal, several additional large-scale solar projects are in the pipeline.

The state-owned Power Development Board has begun developing an even larger, 500 MW solar park in the Feni district. They expect to complete the $500 million project by 2023. Once online, it will nearly double the country’s solar generation capacity. Several private solar farms between 50-100 MW are also planned in other regions.

With its competitive solar energy prices and strong solar resources, Bangladesh is poised to see sustained growth in solar installations. Renewable energy is critical to meeting rising electricity demand and improving energy access across the densely populated country. Solar power will play an increasingly important role in Bangladesh’s energy mix and development.

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