Solar Park a Timely Initiative

There is lots of confusion regarding the sources of green energy in Bangladesh.  It seems the government is keen to develop grid-connected solar parks to generate electricity. But at the same time it has restricted acquiring farm land for setting up solar parks, which is quite reasonable.

According to the government plan, renewable sources should provide about 10 percent of the total power generation capacity by 2021, meaning 2400MW power generation from renewable sources.  And it is very unlikely that the country would be able produce power of that amount. Currently, the on-grid solar power generation capacity is estimated at 15MW, including one well-publicised solar park with 3MW capacity built on 8 acres of land in Sarishabari in Jamalpur district.

Developing solar park will require enough barren land, which we do not have. A 100MW solar park for example requires about 300 acres of land. Unless efficiency is developed for lesser land requirement through new technology a major problem will continue to remain towards rapid expansion of on-grid solar in Bangladesh.

Now, the government has reportedly taken a move to scrap contracts with foreign firms on setting up three solar parks with a generation capacity of 282 MW. The seasons are, a report said, failures to arrange fund and acquire required land. However, Bangladesh has a success story in developing off-grid rooftop solar power known as solar home system (SHS) providing electricity to a large number of people living in remote off-grid areas. More than four million SHS installed domestically have improved the lifestyle of the rural people by providing small-scale power at their homes. But in the context of national power demand and generation, the contribution of SMS is tiny, a meager 250 megawatt, which is only two percent of the total power generation capacity in the country. In fact, in the solar industry worldwide, large-scale solar power generation essentially means on-grid solar.

Given the scarcity of land and fund problem a large scale development of solar parks might not contribute to generation of power enough to connect every household and industrial unit in the country. But, under the present circumstances expansion of home solar system to rural and as well as urban areas will be more reasonable.