Bring solar projects for cheaper electricity than coal

Nasrul challenges green activists

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:17, Feb 20,2018 | Updated: 00:56, Feb 20,2018


State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid on Monday challenged green activists to bring solar park projects that would supply electricity at lower cost than a power plant that ran on imported coal.
‘We are dealing with 52 solar power projects in the private sector, none of which are offering electricity less than 13 to 14 US cents per unit,’ he said at a discussion meeting on Renewable Energy Potentials in Bangladesh jointly organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon and Waterkeepers Bangladesh at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
The government would award the contract while bypassing bidding process, he said in response to the examples of solar electricity being generated at cost ranging 2.50 to 4.50 US cents in India, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi cited by the green activists at the meeting.
Nasrul said realities of Bangladesh were not comparable with the deserts of India or the Middle Eastern countries as they had huge barren land while it is very difficult and expensive to arrange 350-400 acres of land to install a 100-MW solar park.
Construction of a number of large power plants with up to 1,320MW capacity each is underway in the country which would be run on imported coal and are expected to supply electricity at around Tk 8 per unit.
BAPA vice-president Khandker Bazlul Huq presided over the meeting where Daniel M Kammen, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, presented summary of a study titled Identifying High Priority Clean Energy Investment Opportunities for Bangladesh.
Power Cell former director general BD Rahmatullah, Dhaka University geology professor Badrul Imam, Dhaka University’s Renewable Energy Institute director Saiful Huq and power division joint secretary Mohammad Alauddin spoke among others.
Daniel said that the study observed that there was far more utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) potential than previously estimated, at costs lower than coal power, and conversion of land can likely be avoided.
The study also claimed that concentrated solar power (CSP) with thermal storage could provide more electricity than the demand estimated until 2021 while rooftop solar PV systems on commercial and residential buildings could provide 17 per cent of current peak demands at dozens of urban locations across the country.
The study said that the price of CSP without storage facilities was competitive with the conventional electricity sources while it was hopeful that the cost of storage facilities would come down in course of time to facilitate power supply at night as well.
Nasrul said that Bangladesh’s monsoon made it unsuitable for solar power.
Citing an example, he said, ‘if we have 5,000MW of solar PV system connected to the national grid and the sun goes out behind clouds, the grid will collapse.’

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