Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

A bid to save Yangon’s historic architectures

Posted in Myanmar, Real estate and property, Renewable energy, Tourism, Yangon by Sherpa Hossainy on July 10, 2013

Published in Myanmar Business Today (Vol 1, Issue 19) on June 13, 2013

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Yangon Heritage Trust, a local non government organisation, has joined hands with Netherlands-based electronics giant Philips to protect Yangon’s old architectures and cultural heritage sites.

The partnership aims to help conserve and beautify Yangon’s many cultural heritage sites. It will support research and curation of historical sites and installation of blue plaques, which will provide relevant information and detailed history of key sites.

The partnership was announced on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia on June 5 in Nay Pyi Taw.

YHT Philips

Dr Thant Myint-U (R), founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), and Harjit Gill, chief executive officer of Philips ASEAN and Pacific, display a blue plaque. Some 200 blue plaques detailing the history of Yangon’s heritage sites will be installed this year. Sherpa Hossainy

Philips contributed $75,000 for the Yangon blue plaques initiative to highlight cultural heritage sites throughout Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial and cultural hub. A total of 200 blue plaques will be installed to share the historical relevance and background of the heritage sites across the city. Most of the plaques will be installed by this year.

“We are in a time of change, and many things will change dramatically. But it is important to remind people and the government that we have to protect what is beautiful in our city,” said Dr Thant Myint-U, founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), founded a year ago targeting to preserve Yangon’s heritage.

YHT is currently working with the government to list heritage buildings in Yangon and take measures to protect them. “We are receiving tremendous support and enthusiasm from the government. We had meetings with top ministers at the national level and also with Yangon’s Mayor – they all assured us of their support,” Dr Thant told Myanmar Business Today. Government and public support, and collaboration with private entities are essential if YHT has to succeed, he added.

“Old Yangon has an area that is only 10 percent of the new city and we only want to preserve that part. There’s enough space for modernisation and to build shopping malls and business centres in other parts of the city. We can’t let Shwedagon Pagoda get covered by skyscrapers,” Dr Thant said.

“If we can protect the views of the Shwedagon and other heritage sites, Yangon has the potential to become the most beautiful city in Asia. Yangon is the only place in Asia where you have 19th and 20th century landscape left. They are priceless assets – if we can protect them, they will become more valuable than natural gas, oil or jade.”

Tourism is going to boom in Myanmar and Yangon’s downtown area can be presented as a package for tourists if the cultural sites can be saved, Dr Thant said. “Downtown Yangon is where modern Myanmar came to be, where our greatest writers, politicians and thinkers were born. Within only one square mile you can see tremendous diversity – there’s Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese temples, there’s mosques and a synagogue. You don’t see that everywhere.”

“In five to 10 years we will probably become a developing country, and then in 20 years a middle-income country. If we have a modern and beautiful city, we would be able to generate and attract talent, and be able to compete with other major cities in the region such as Delhi, Chennai and Shanghai,” he added.

Dr Thant, also a historian and author, said this initiative is not only about buildings, but also about people living in downtown, especially poor people living there. “They should understand that saving our heritage will bring in more investments and create jobs for them.”

A British colonial era building in Yangon. WMC

A British colonial era building in Yangon. WMC

However, he said there’s no immediate plan to expand YHT’s work in other major regions in Myanmar such as Mandalay and Rakhine state. “Currently we only want to focus on Yangon. We don’t have enough manpower and finance to expand to other regions,” he told Myanmar Business Today.

“We are pleased that Philips is supporting us in our initiative. These plaques will provide information and help identify historic buildings. Sometimes people don’t understand the history behind those buildings – we can achieve that through the plaques.

“We must remember, conserve and celebrate our heritage. The blue plaque system will play a big role in doing just that, by marking buildings and other places of historical, cultural, and religious importance, not only for tourists but for the Myanmar people themselves. It will be linked to other efforts to revitalise downtown Yangon and set the stage for sustainable growth. Our partnership with Philips is part of realising our mission to safeguard and promote Yangon’s priceless heritage as part of this great city’s future.”

Philips recently conducted a lighting audit of heritage zones in collaboration with both YHT and the Mayor’s office. Philips said in a statement that it aims to ensure lighting plays an important role in the Yangon Master Plan, so that energy efficient LED lighting technology can help further conservation, beautification, and sustainability.

“We want to help Myanmar grow in a sustainable way. We want the old architectures to last in a beautiful way amid all the development process,” said Harjit Gill, chief executive officer of Philips ASEAN and Pacific.

British company eyes major investments in energy sector

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Energy and power, Renewable energy by Sherpa Hossainy on November 15, 2011

Published in The Independent on November 15

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

A UK-based company is set to make its mark in Bangladesh’s energy and power sector by setting up diesel generator and solar panel manufacturing plants in a bid to expand its business in developing economies.

“We want to become a premier manufacturer and supplier of diesel generators, which will be manufactured in Bangladesh and sold to both local and global markets,” said Steve Bandey, managing director of T&R Generators.

The company has already laid bare its business plan for the next five years in Bangladesh. “We want to quickly gain market penetration within the first three years,” Bandey told The Independent in an exclusive interview.

“We have several sites suggested for a factory. In January 2012, upon my return to Dhaka, we will choose the most appropriate and continue bearing in mind the possibility of an office in Dhaka,” he said.

Bandey said T&R is also eyeing investments in renewable energy sector by setting up a solar panel manufacturing factory in Bangladesh and produce quality solar panels at cheaper rates using the country’s cheap workforce.

“We will introduce the design, manufacture and supply of renewable energy based products including solar-based photovoltaic and water heating systems and wind energy products,” he said.

T&R plans to commence its manufacture of diesel generators in Bangladesh early next year and is currently in the process of design, supply and manufacture its first generator, which  will be exhibited to businessmen in January 2012, Bandey said.

Steve Bandey, managing director of T&R Generators.

“As we already have the technology and know-how, we’ll start the diesel generator plant first. Solar panel construction and manufacturing will follow on, once appropriate engineers are chosen and trained accordingly, also taking into consideration that factories are ready for use,” he added.

Bandey said strong light from sun can be used to produce high efficiency electricity in Bangladesh and T&R recognises the environmental and economic benefits of that.

“We aim to install five solar PV arrays with capacity of 50 megawatts each and it would be possible within three years. However, this project is still at the development stages,” he said.

T&R Generators Ltd, established in 1975, has enjoyed success in design, manufacture and supply of high-performance diesel engine generator sets ranging from 4.3kva to 3300kva. The British power company has extensive experience with power and power generation systems from large-scale to smaller specialist projects and has huge presence in Middle East, Africa and Asia.

T&R is currently working in cooperation with local company Home Street Builders and Bandey believes that it is important to have local liaisons. “We are also in talks with other local energy companies to assist shape our business and move swiftly ahead,” he said.

Bandey also wants to include local talents and engineers and create employment opportunities in Bangladesh through T&R projects. “It is our objective to use highly trained and skilled engineers and managers, already present in Bangladesh with the necessary guidance and support from our own team in the UK,” he said.

Explaining T&R’s reason to expand its business in Bangladesh, Bandey said: “We believe electricity is a key ingredient for the social and economic development of a country, and with the government’s policy statement and initiative for power generation companies, Bangladesh was our choice.” T&R has actually been present in Bangladesh for over 11 years with a large variety of clientele, he added.

T&R also has plans for other renewable sources in Bangladesh such as wind power, especially in the coastal and higher areas of Bangladesh where it is windier, he said.

Bandey lauded the eagerness of key government officials from Power Division, Ministry of Establishment, Dhaka City Corporation, Planning Division, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, Power Development Board and members of parliament in T&R’s business here and said that the overwhelming support had assisted with the company’s decision to move its development plans forward.

T&R logo

Bandey stressed the need to switch over to renewable energy amid depleting gas and fossil fuel resources of Bangladesh and said that poverty and lack of access to energy are closely linked.

“Bangladesh desires to make electricity available to all by 2021. This will be achieved more easily by focusing on natural resources (solar/wind) rather than extending a failing grid network; however fossil fuels will still be very important in other areas.

“Renewable energy (solar/wind) will benefit people in more rural and isolated areas, as no infrastructure is available; whereas city areas will benefit from immediate improvements to the national grid and using solar power to support the grid on new structures,” Bandey said.

The T&R managing director said solar energy might seem expensive but in the long run it is cheaper than any other energy source. Present customers must understand that the initial outlay for a solar system is expensive, however after that maintenance is very minimal and other costs are zero, he said.

“When you produce surplus electricity from the power plant, you could sell it to others and make a return on your investment. It is assumed that within 5-7 years the system will payoff,” he added.

Steve Bandey said that solar electric energy demand has grown by an average 30 per cent annually over the past 20 years against a backdrop of rapidly declining costs and prices, and this decline has been driven by manufacturing scale, technology improvements and the increasing efficiency of solar cells.

“In developing countries like Bangladesh, markets have benefited from the steady decline in solar PV prices, but they have also been stimulated by continued multilateral and bilateral development aid. This has meant that solar has been an enabling technology for developmental programmes for education, clean water and healthcare etc,” Bandey said.

He said T&R is also planning to develop a customer-centric organisation based on cutting edge technology with the development of fuel cell technology in association with a UK university’s technical team.

However, the T&R chief did not want to disclose the total amount of investments the company is contemplating but said that it will be significant.

“It is difficult to estimate costing at this moment, however I can say the more success at each stage, the more investment will continue to be added,” Bandey said.

New mark set for solar home system project

Posted in Bangladesh, Energy and power, Renewable energy by Sherpa Hossainy on October 3, 2011

Published in The Independent on 3 October 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

The Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL) has beefed up its target for installing solar home system (SHS) to 2.5 million units by 2014, company officials said.

The previous target was to set up 1 million SHSs by December 2012, which the non-bank financial institute achieved by June this year.

“If the current trend continues, we’ll be able to achieve the new target by mid-2014,” said Iqramul Hasan, programme officer (solar) of IDCOL.

According to IDCOL statistics, the solar programme has helped save more than 80,000 tonnes of kerosene in rural households, worth around $79.45 million and saved another $300 million in terms of costs of connection.

A man installs solar home system (SHS) on a roof in Bangladesh

“When we achieve the new target the combined capacity of the total project will be around 155 megawatts, providing electricity to more than 1 crore people,” said Hasan.

Currently the total installed capacity of the solar project is around 52MW, which serves around 50 lakh recipients.

The financier has already meted out around $172 million in loans and $34.28 million in grants for installation of SHS until June. IDCOL also plans to invest another $387 million in soft loans and $45 million in grants for the SHS programme.

Easy credit facilities and subsidies have made the programme, dubbed as the fastest growing renewable energy programme in the world, a success, said Hasan.

“We provide easy to avail financial support through our partner organisations and supply quality equipments to get solar power. For the rural people who have only seen kerosene lamps, this is a big incentive,” Hasan added.

IDCOL has installed 60,142 SHSs in Sunamganj till June, which is the highest coverage by the company in a district. With 58,836 and 39,483 SHSs, Patuakhali and Satkhira are the second and third most-covered districts, the statistics showed.

There are 30 the partner organisations that help implement the IDCOL SHS project. Among the 1 million installed systems, Grameen Shakti alone installed over .6 million and Rural Service Foundation has set up over .15 million around the country.

IDCOL had been promoting dissemination of solar home systems in the remote rural areas of Bangladesh with the financial support from the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, German Technical Corporation, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.

It started the programme in January 2003 and its initial target was to finance 50,000 SHSs by the end of June 2008.

The target was achieved in September 2005, three years ahead of schedule and $2 million below estimated project cost.

IDCOL then revised its target and decided to finance 200,000 SHSs by the end of 2009. This was also achieved by May 2009.

Solar Cold Storage – a new horizon for farmers

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Energy and power, Interviews, Renewable energy, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on September 14, 2011

Published in The Independent on 9 September 2011

Read the article on Independent website
Digital print version

Farmers in Bangladesh might finally get free from the clutches of hoarders and middlemen, thanks to a novel green technology — solar cold storage.

The impoverished farmers are most often denied fair prices during harvesting season as they are forced to sell off their produce to unscrupulous middlemen, who stockpile and sell those at much higher prices later.

Bangladesh Clean Technology Company Ltd (BCTCL) is going to introduce new solar-based micro cold storages in Bangladesh at affordable prices in a bid to give the farmers a chance to store their produce and save themselves from the menacing grip of hoarders.

“The opportunists take advantage of farmers’ inability to store their produce. So they count big losses and sell their produce at a much lower price to the cold storage owners,” said Iqbal Sufi, managing director of BCTCL.

The hoarders usually store the produce for a few months and sell it later at four to five times higher prices. The farmers and customers get extorted and exploited in the process, Sufi added.

“Instead of the traditional cold storages that are used to store potatoes, we are going to introduce micro cold storages. Such cold storages can be used to store any kinds of vegetable, fruit and other agro-products,” said Sufi.

A traditional 1,000-tonne cold storage costs about Tk 3.5 crore ($473,970) and consumes a large amount of electricity. They are rarely used to store any other agro-products except for potatoes in Bangladesh.

Micro cold storages are usually 100-500 tonnes in size and run solely by solar power. It has a backup generator, which is only used initially to achieve the standard cooling temperature.

A 100-tonne capacity micro cold storage costs around Tk 35 lakh ($47,400) and there is little or no electricity cost incurred.

Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL) has expressed interest to finance the project with assistance from the World Bank’s renewable energy development funds. BCTCL will submit the project proposal to IDCOL within a week and Sufi expects to start the project one or two months after the official paperwork is done.

The company is planning to introduce four 500-tonne capacity cold storages in Rangpur, Jessore, Munshiganj and Savar in the first phase and also aims to introduce those all over Bangladesh, even in Hatia island where it can be used to store dried fishes.

The World Bank will provide 50 per cent subsidy to the poor farmers who will buy the micro cold storages directly. Thirty per cent of the money will be given as loan at six per cent interest rates, which has to be paid back within six years. The rest 20 per cent, which is around Tk 3-4 lakh, has to be paid at the beginning.

Sufi said there are many farmers who can afford to pay the first down payment. “There are plenty of people who live abroad and upon coming back to Bangladesh invest their hard-earned money in risky ventures without thinking it through.

“They can invest their money to buy this cold storage and store their produces. Also, they can rent out space in such solar-run storage to the farmers who want to store their produces,” he said.

The micro solar cold storages can be used all year round unlike the traditional ones, which are only operational 8-9 months and used as one-time solution.

Sufi said: “If someone keeps a sack of potato for a whole season he can get Tk 300 as rent; whereas using micro solar cold storage you can store dry chillies, which are becoming increasingly popular as a all-year-round produce, and get Tk 500.”

The power consumption to store dry chillies is almost one third of potato and it is more profitable to store them than potato, he added. In these multi-purpose cold storages farmers can also opt for storing imported vegetables and hybrid seeds, and they can store four different types of produce at the same time.

“We have done the practical research and feasibility study and it is obviously much more profitable than the traditional potato cold storages,” Sufi said. A farmer can get back his investments within three to four years, he pointed out.

Unlike typical cold storages, which sprang up all around Bangladesh, solar cold storages are significantly energy-efficient and have modern designs.

“The existing structures of the cold storages are at least a hundred years old. You will not see this technology anywhere in the world nowadays,” said the BCTCL boss.

The ammonia-based traditional cold storages are only suitable for potatoes only, as other produces are affected by the leaked ammonia inside the storage.

Sufi said there is a need to get out of the trend of building potato cold storages, and put attention towards other agro-products such as tomato and chilli.

“The climate of this country makes vegetables and other produces quickly perishable. You either have to eat them or sell them at low prices within two days,” he said.

Sufi believes now it is the time to build the infrastructure to save the farmers and ensure fair prices for their products.

“The farmers won’t be able to hold on to their produces if they don’t have storages of their own. We are introducing the technology keeping this in mind,” he said.

You can hear the sound of a clock ticking

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Dhaka, Environment, Interviews, Renewable energy by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

My interview with UK govt Climate Envoy John Ashton

Published in The Independent (Op-ed page) on 29 July 2011

Read the article on The Independent website

Digital print version

The voice of urgency on climate change, despite being a globally burning issue, is yet to be widely heard in Bangladesh. The correlation of climate change with global economy, food and international security and human existence are appearing to be far more complex and steadily demanding action from a politically motivated force.

Unfortunately, few countries are so directly exposed than Bangladesh to some of the stresses that eventually everyone will be feeling as a result of climate change, if a successful response can’t be summoned. However, building a coalition of highly ambitious forces and putting political momentum into the issue is posing to be a great challenge for climate change diplomacy.

In a mission to build the much needed political response for a stronger cooperation, John Ashton, international climate politics expert and British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change, came to Bangladesh recently.

“My goal is to work with like-minded people around the world to push up the level of ambition in the global response to climate change,” John Ashton told The Independent in an exclusive interview. Ashton lamented that in nearly 15 years of his involvement in this issue he can’t remember of a time when the available political momentum globally had been lower than it is now.

“You could even say that we have hardly begun to respond to this challenge at the scale we need to. It’s human nature to focus on the important at the expense of the urgent, and there are so many distractions that people regard as important,” he said.

John Ashton, William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change

Describing climate change as a “multiplier of stresses”, Ashton said that it’s a widely made mistake to regard climate change as a separate set of issues that are not intimately connected with other stresses society is dealing with.

Ashton said it would be interesting to see if the two main political parties in Bangladesh can transcend the deep and bitter political rivalry between them and focus on the mission.

“I think I’m fortunate to come from a country where there is a cross party consensus,” said Ashton, referring to his appointment by a Conservative Foreign Minister even after representing two previous Labour Party Foreign Secretaries in the UK. Although it is a very political role, it’s a non-party political role, he said.

Ashton said it’s imperative to pull a finely resilient carbon neutral global economy through effective politics based on a legally binding framework.

“When governments or politicians make voluntary promises it does not fill people with confidence that they will try to the limits to carry out that promise even if there are distractions. We need them to make promises that people can have faith in. That’s why this battle between legally binding and voluntary is so important,” the diplomat said.

Following the watershed at the climate talks in Copenhagen 2009, Ashton remained unconvinced about a fully fledged legally binding framework as an outcome of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, in December this year.

“This is an extremely difficult political subject that would take years to construct. I hope we can come out with a higher degree of confidence that would lead to a legally binding project,” he said.

Responding to a question whether Bangladesh would be able sustain its growth in a low carbon economy Ashton said there is no contradiction between simultaneously wanting to have high growth and a carbon resilient growth.

“Both could be mutually reinforcing if we do it the right way. It is better to use the efficient form of energy which is low carbon rather than the inefficient energy,” he said.

Ashton cited example of the new Chinese five-year plan, which focused more on the quality of growth rather than the quantity after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao termed the country’s economic model as “uncoordinated, unbalanced and unsustainable”.

“There’s a growing realisation that if you don’t pay attention to the quality of growth you may find that the price of having very rapid growth in a very short term is that your growth then collapses, because it contains the seeds of its own destruction,” he said.

John Ashton, UK Govt climate envoy

Voicing optimism about the prospect of renewable energy in Bangladesh, Ashton said that an enormous amount can be done with the available opportunities as they don’t require a huge capital, or technologies that are not yet invented.

“I’m a bit puzzled why there are no solar water heaters in Bangladesh. In China and South America nearly every house has them. They are extremely cheap and in warm countries they can provide all the hot waters needed.” Ashton said.

Advising on Bangladesh’s 2.5 billion tonnes of high quality coal resource in its northern districts, Ashton said it would be wrong to exclude coal although it sits right at the heart of the problem.

Coal is still a very important part of the power generation worldwide. In Germany 50 per cent of all electricity comes from coal, in UK it is about 30 per cent, in America and China it’s 50 and 83 per cent respectively.

Ashton pointed out power crisis as a “particular bottleneck” for Bangladesh and said there are two things to do about coal: one is to move away from coal to lower carbon gas or other renewable; and another is to use it but increasingly apply carbon capture storage (CCS) technology that will make coal carbon-neutral.

“If you have suitable geological conditions for CCS, you can ask the donors and international financial institutions to fund for coal-fired power stations with CCS to become a part of the first-wave of CCS in the world,” Ashton advised, asking to seek help from the climate financing fund of World Bank and Department for International Development (DFID).

“World Bank can pay for the additional costs so that building such a power station is no more costly than a conventional one. It is clearly not reasonable to expect Bangladesh to pay the additional costs of CCS,” he said.

Ashton rebutted the claim of CCS technology being unproven, terming it as “nonsense” and said, “This is not some over-the-horizon technology; this is something that has been on use for a long time in an industrial scale.”

Although Ashton said that he holds no ideological standpoint on whether grants or loans should be given to the vulnerable countries to deal with climate change, rather he opted to go for the suitable financing mechanism available.

“You need a mixture of grants and loans, and you need to make sure that you are using the balance which is suitable for particular circumstances,” he said.  The climate envoy said: “The development community in the industrialised countries needs to take this much more seriously that there is a significant component of adaptation funding that has to be grant based.”

The UK is trying to help in this regard from a moral imperative and climate change is about responding to a deep inequity, he added.

“Those countries which will suffer the most, the soonest, and have the least capacity to deal with the consequences tend to be the countries which have contributed the least to the problem. Unless it’s reflected in the responses we would not be able to gain trust in the international system,” Ashton said.

But he stressed on maintaining a very high degree of transparency so that people can see whether they can be sure to put the money in, and the money don’t get diverted elsewhere.

He said there are some more areas where there is far more sensible to use loan – because it’s easier to bring business-based approach, and private sector players who will give you more efficiency in the interventions.

Urging everyone to build a century of cooperation Ashton said: “We have to learn to define ourselves and our various national identities on the basis of what we all have in common, rather than on the basis what divides us.

Ashton said: “The key is to try and build a willingness to see these problems through each others eyes. If we try to do this just on the basis of a negotiation, where we send negotiators in a big resort in Bali, or in a conference centre in Durban, we don’t learn very much about the realities.”

Putting the onus of a carbon resilient economy on the developed nations, Ashton said, “It is incumbent upon the high carbon and particularly industrialised economies to take the lead in mapping the path for a low-carbon growth model.

John Ashton, William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change, in an interview with The Independent

“Everybody’s life is going to be touched very significantly by climate change. The only legitimate conversation to have is one in which everyone has a voice — a global conversation.”

Describing the global spike in grain prices in 2008, following a drought in large part of Australia, one of the world’s leading grain producers, as “a prequel of what to come”, Ashton said the existing double-digit food price inflation in Bangladesh could take a grave shape if the climatic extremes are not dealt urgently. Last year in Russia, heat wave and drought led the Russian government to ban the exports of wheat that saw an immediate surge in international prices of wheat.

On the flipside of the climate change issue, there is an “anti climate change” sect who claim that the issue is a “fairy tale” and the earth will take care of itself. Blasting those critiques, Ashton said: “There are people who still say that the earth is flat. For some there is more cynical motivation because they want to prevent certain actions being taken.

“If you just dismissively say I don’t care about it, it seems to me a deeply immoral position and unacceptable according to the political morality of every society that shares this.”

ADB to fund 500 MW Bangladesh PV project

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Finance, International publication, Renewable energy, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on June 11, 2011

Published in the PV-magazine, Germany, on 9 June, 2011

Read the article on PV website

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will provide funds for a 500 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic project in Bangladesh’s off-grid areas.

The top executives of ADB assured a high-level Bangladesh delegation of the grants on the final day of its three-day Asia Solar Energy Forum’s conference, held in Bangkok, Thailand at the start of June. The delegation was led by the Prime Minister’s energy adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.

“The project needs an investment of about $3 billion, of which we proposed for 60 percent capital funds and 20 percent long-term soft loans,” a government source in the power division who attended the conference said. “The rest will be provided by the government and the private sector.”

He added: “But the exact amount of funds will be finalised after the project feasibility study by the ADB and Bangladesh Government.”

The 500 MW plan

The proposed 500 MW solar project aims to see photovoltaics installed in urban areas, and mini-grid solar plants in rural areas, officials who attended the conference said. Specifically, the plan includes social-impact projects where solar power will be delivered to rural health centres, schools and other important institutions.

The Bangladesh Government’s power division and state-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), along with private organisations such as Rahimafrooz Renewable and Grameen Shakti, will implement the project.

The nine ministries that would also help with its implementation, in coordination with the Power Division, are the ministries of railway, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), housing and public works, health and family planning, religious affairs, education, industries and agriculture.

Among the ministries, the power ministry would install solar panels worth 100 MW, while the railway division will install 50 MW worth at railway stations. Meanwhile, the LGED will install solar panels totalling 70 MW in cities; the housing and public works ministry will install 100 MW on public buildings; the health ministry 50 MW; and the religious affairs ministry will install 10 MW of solar panels at different religious institutions.

Furthermore, the education ministry will set up 40 MW worth of solar systems at schools and colleges, the industries ministry will install 20 MW at different state-owned mills and factories, and the agriculture ministry will set up solar-based irrigation pumps worth a  total of 80 MW at different places.

The delegation officials claimed that the project would save about $100 million worth of fuel subsidies and will generate carbon credits of over $95 million.
ADB vice president Xiaoyu Zhao and senior members expressed their satisfaction with the proposed plan and assured all-out support to work with Bangladesh.

Investment fund

The ADB is also discussing with European countries about an investment fund of $500 million for solar projects in developing countries like Bangladesh, official sources said.

Germany, Spain and Italy are among the countries that have offered incentives to help bolster the solar-power generating capacity.

Every month more than 30,000 solar home systems are being installed in Bangladesh, thus adding 1.5 MW of electricity to the country’s national power generation.

The ADB arranged the conference as part of its policy to promote renewable energy, particularly solar-based power systems, in the Asian countries. It plans to introduce 3,000 MW of solar-based power systems in the region by 2013.

Delegations from most of the Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Maldives participated in the conference.

Bangladesh set to install 2,000 PV power plants

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Finance, International publication, Renewable energy, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on June 11, 2011

Published in the PV-magazine, Germany, on 10 June, 2011

Read the article on PV website

Bangladesh is set to install 2,000 photovoltaic mini-grid power plants by 2014 in a bid to bring its off-grid areas under the power network.

The Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), a state owned financial institution, has reportedly said it will provide loans for the project.

“Plants with an average capacity of 25 kilowatts (kW) will be installed in the off-grid areas of Bangladesh, which will generate 113 kWh electricity every year,” IDCOL chief executive officer Islam Sharif said.

Sharif went on to explain that a 25 kW solar mini-grid can save the kerosene consumption of 60 households or small shops in the rural areas, each of which consumes eight litres of kerosene per month.

“This will save 11,520 tonnes of kerosene per year altogether, and cut dependency on fossil fuels,” he said, adding that “each solar mini-grid will generate electricity for four and a half hours and produce 113 kWh electricity. This will reduce the national grid demand by 82GWh per year.”

IDCOL will select some non-government organisations (NGO) or private entities as partner organisations to implement the plan on the basis of their management capacity, financial strength and micro-finance experience, Sharif continued.

“IDCOL will first assess the proposals submitted by the organisations, approve those based on some specific guidelines and then give out grants and soft loans,” the IDCOL CEO said.

“The organisations will select the plant areas and target consumers. They will be bound to operate the plant for at least the loan period,” he added.

Although Bangladesh boasts significant experience in installing solar home systems in remote and off-grid areas, the solar mini-grid project is the first of its kind here.

As of May 2011, 950,000 plus photovoltaic systems were installed in Bangladesh, supported by the government and financed by IDCOL under its Solar Home System (SHS) project, along with 30 NGO and private sector partners.

As another new addition to the energy sector, the Bangladesh Government recently has taken up a pilot project to use solar energy for irrigation pumps.

The country’s government has also lifted all sorts of tax and VAT on renewable energy equipments to encourage the use of sustainable renewable energy sources.

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