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Solar Energy in Bangladesh

Bangladesh claims the lowest per-capita consumption of commercial energy in South Asia, but there is a significant gap between supply and demand. Bangladesh’s power system depends on fossil fuels supplied by both private sector and state-owned power plants. After system losses, the country’s installed capacity for electricity generation can generate 3,800 megawatts of electricity per day; however, daily demand is near 6,000 megawatts per day. In general, rapid industrialization and urbanization has propelled the increase in demand for energy by 10% per year. What further exacerbates Bangladesh’s energy problems is the fact that the country’s power generation plants are dated and may need to be shut down sooner rather than later.

Clearly, the present gas production capacity in Bangladesh cannot support both domestic gas needs, as well as wider electricity generation for the country. The Government of Bangladesh is actively engaged in energy crisis management. The National Energy Policy has the explicit goal of supplying the whole country with electricity by 2020. Since 1996, the government has allowed private, independent power producers to enter the Bangladeshi market. It is already importing 100 megawatts of power from India and has negotiated with private companies renting plants to buy power at higher rates.

Solar Energy

Even with these measures, Bangladesh’s gas reserves are quickly diminishing. For the country to fulfill its goal of universal electrification, Bangladesh needs to invest in alternative sources of energy. The energy needs of Bangladesh are great not just because of limited supply; the issue is also mainly one of access. About 80% of the population resides in areas where electricity is akin to a dream. There are estimates that many parts of the country will still not acquire electricity from the national grid for another 30 years. The national grid covers at most 20% of households, but this statistic does not capture the infrequency of access and the resources needed to bolster it.

CSolar energy therefore has significant potential for Bangladesh. Solar power does not require sophisticated technology or know-how. It does not require fossil fuels to function, and is highly reliable: it is an economically feasible energy source. There are studies that suggest that if solar energy is adopted, as much as 10,000 megawatts daily of solar electricity can be created in the short- and medium-runs – this is equivalent to twice the total amount of electricity produced and supplied on the national grid.

Installation of Solar Home System (SHS)is one of the main activities of GPKS.

To enhance the service network, GPKS has opened unit offices in remote rural areas of Bangladesh. To manage its operation better over the country; GPKS has opened 10 Zone and 75 Region. Before opening the unit office GPKS conducts a primary survey to find out the energy needs of the locality and their socio-economic condition. Once the survey indicates that area is potential for dissemination of renewable energy technology then GPKS takes initiative to open a new unit office to serve the area.

To support the operation and field activities. GPKS has deployed adequate number of experience and socially committed fellows. At present 79 staffs are working and most of them are technical professionals.

Program Description

The program is defined as pilot project to find out the potentiality of Small Solar Home System in rural areas. To facilitate the lower income group GPKS has designed the small SHS (16Wp & 21Wp) with low power LED lighting device. Initially 215 small SHS under the pilot project and finally 1000 SHS have been installed.

Mini SHS to Reach the Pro-poor

Successful implementation of small SHS has inspired to take pilot initiative for finding the technical and economical scope and impact of mini SHS. GPKS is implementing the program at field level. Under the framework of the project, GPKS is installing 500 small solar home systems for the very low income group. The system is based on 7.5 Wp PV modules with a 7.5 Ah rechargeable maintenance free battery and few small lighting devices. Main targeted users of the system are small grocery shop, small home business as well as small home in rural areas where there is no electricity. So far 500 have been installed.