ENERGY crisis has always been one of the most pressing challenges in Bangladesh. It is unfortunate but true that annual flooding, poverty, traffic jam and load shedding are the words that are often used to describe Bangladesh. The country had to be dependent on neighboring countries for water and electricity for a long period of time. In addition, the present energy infrastructure of Bangladesh is quite small and insufficient. The per capita energy consumption in Bangladesh is one of the lowest (321kwh) in the world.
Wind energy is the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source. Our neighboring country India had an installed wind power capacity of 6270mw at the end of 2006, which became 20300 at the end of 2014. Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world’s electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind.
I was an undergrad student at Independent University, Bangladesh when I first thought about wind power. I was doing a summer internship in a telecom company. Sixty per cent of our total rural areas did not have electricity coverage. The operators need electricity to power their mobile switching centres and base transceiver stations. As a student, I have some background in electrical science. So, I was given a research topic to power their remote BTSs with renewable power sources. I designed a hybrid system that is able to meet their power requirements by running on solar and wind. Solar was a common source to power remote BTS but for consistency and cost effectiveness I added to work with wind for the system. Solar is only effective when there is good sunlight. But wind blows at all time, more or less making wind power cheaper.
In my work, I designed low speed wind turbine blades that were able to generate power in low wind conditions. I did a trial with the blades in Patenga, Chittagong and the performance was promising. At the same time I have visited two existing wind power plants in the country in Sonagazi and Kutubdia. I looked into the possible reasons behind the commercial failure of existing plants. I found out that the wind power plants in Bangladesh were installed without proper wind map, research and feasibility studies. A successful return on investment depends on a plant’s smooth operation through out its service life. Harsh weather conditions over the course of a turbine’s service life can reduce the overall performance of a site, which may result in a loss of earnings. I found that both wind farms were halted several times which led to poor return on investments and made the farms commercially unviable. People of the country started to believe that Bangladesh does not have enough wind to generate power.
I wanted to demystify this misconception of people. I agree that Bangladesh is not very windy when compared to European countries that are extracting a lot of power from wind. I started to design efficient systems that work well in low wind conditions.
I was thinking of making my own wind turbine prototype. But to gain full independence to review all alternative options myself, I relied on my own financing instead of my university funding. Although this initial phase was self-financed, I planned to invest the revenue from supplying electricity to rural communities for the expansion of the model.
Therefore, after completing my master’s programme, I registered my own company — GREEVO. Then, I began to work on the product development, research and consultation. Simultaneously, I looked for like-minded people who knew what I was doing and who understood it was feasible as they had the technical knowledge and started to build a team to design the first Bangladeshi made wind turbine G117-10. After designing the system successfully we started to make the wind turbine. It took one and a half years to make G117-10 — our first commercial prototype. The reason behind taking a long period of time making it was the unavailability of the resources in the local market.
To go on trial with this product we had to choose a place with moderate wind conditions. We gathered some satellite data and verified them with our team. Finally, we picked a village named Ruppoti in Inani, Coxs Bazar to set up the turbine. It was a long arduous process to win the heart of local people and gain access to their resources such as land to set up the turbine. We met with the local chairman and committee and explained to them what our mission was and how our turbines could help fulfill their need of electricity. We could even provide electricity for the consumption of individual home. It was crucial to emphasize the benefits of the wind turbine to the community. I told them that I planned on supplying our trial period’s yield of electricity to the local mosque and a school for a fixed period of time for free. This allowed us to record data on how much yield of electricity can be gained in varying wind conditions and climates.
On December 5, 2016 we successfully installed G117-10 in Inani, Cox’s Bazar. The system weight is 3 Ton. When we installed the turbine without having any cranes on location, it gave us hope and opened up new possibilities for us to operate in remote locations with no electricity.
The G117-10 is a 10kw off grid system designed and made in Bangladesh considering the local wind speed and climate. The smart controller allows adding additional up to 3KW of solar generated power. The start up wind speed is low at 2.7m/s and the rated output is achieved when the wind speed is 10m/s. It is now operational in Inani, Cox’s Bazar. We hope to make this product available in the market. Currently, we are designing our next products G127–100kw and G118–500kw.
Our team members are completely committed to harvesting wind to meet the energy demands in Bangladesh. We started with a big dream, which has already made us the pioneer in the local renewable energy industry. I always believe in two words: ‘development’ and ‘change’. When I was studying engineering, I was always looking for a way to utilise my achievements for the development of communities that need it the most and which will bring positive changes into their lives and our country. We are a team of confident young energetic people working on making the turbines more efficient, cost-effective and affordable for the rural people of Bangladesh. It was an indescribable feeling when we lighted the first bulb where nobody had lit it before.
The answer really is blowing in the wind.
Jawad Hasan is the founder and CEO of GREEVO. With his keen interest in energy infrastructure as an engineer, he launched GREEVO in 2014 to develop and supply electricity to the remote areas of rural Bangladesh.
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