Solar home systems in urban areas turning useless

Manjurul Ahsan | Updated at 10:41pm on March 24, 2018

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A file photo shows solar panels on the rooftop of a building in Dhaka. About 20 per cent of solar home systems installed in urban areas of Dhaka, Chittagong, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions have been found inoperative though the consumers had been forced to invest huge money for the systems to obtain new power connections. — New Age photo

About 20 per cent of solar home systems installed in urban areas of Dhaka, Chittagong, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions were found inoperative though the consumers had been forced to invest huge money for the systems to obtain new power connections.
Out of 1,26,789 SHSs installed in the urban areas of the four divisions in eight years till last January, 24,881 units were found inoperative, according to a Power Division report prepared in February.
Dhaka Power Distribution Company, Dhaka Electric Supply Company and Power Development Board had provided power connections to 1,26,789 consumers, mostly households with connections of more than 2 kilowatt load, on condition of installing the SHSs, the report shows.
The situation, however, was much better in rural areas with 99.67 per cent of 57,200 SHSs installed by the consumers under the Rural Electrification Board being found in operation.
Lack of maintenance was the main reason for the SHSs becoming inoperational, DPDC executive director Md Ramiz Uddin Sarker told New Age.
‘It requires cleaning the solar panels at least twice a week for getting optimum output from the SHSs, but we found many panels covered in a thick layer of dust,’ he said.
‘We are trying to motivate them to maintain their SHSs,’ Ramiz said.
DESCO managing director Md Shahid Sarwar said that they would go tough against those who were not keeping their SHSs operational as it was a violation of the government condition for obtaining power connections.
While talking to New Age, several owners of residential buildings said the government had forced them to install the SHSs, which they thought was a violation of consumers’ rights.
Echoing the consumers, Consumers Association of Bangladesh energy adviser M Shamsul Alam said, ‘It was totally a wrong way to promote renewable energy.’
‘Ad hoc decisions, mostly influenced by biases or vested interests, have been dominating the entire energy sector, which only burdens the consumers and widely the entire economy of the country,’ he said.
When asked if the government could compel consumers to install SHSs for obtaining new power connections, Power Division secretary Ahmad Kaikaus said the government had not force but encouraged the consumers to do so.
He said the government would soon introduce the net metering system for the consumers with SHSs, offering them to adjust worth of electricity they produced from the SHSs with the worth of electricity they consumed from the distribution utilities.
Besides, the users would be allowed to sell their surplus electricity produced from the SHSs to the utility concerned, he said, adding that it would motivate more power consumers to install and maintain SHSs on their rooftops.
According to the power division report, 7,004 units of SHSs were found inoperative out of 38,651 units in DPDC areas covering major parts of Dhaka and Narayanganj cities, 16,375 units were inoperative out of 38,651 units in DESCO areas covering rest of Dhaka city and 1,503 units out of 6,392 units in Power Development Board areas covering city corporations and municipalities in Chittagong, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions.
Some 269 units of SHSs were found inoperative out of 2,183 units in West-Zone Power Distribution Company’s areas covering the city corporations and municipalities under Barisal and Khulna divisions while 389 units out of 11,984 were inoperative in Northern Electric Supply Company’s areas covering Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions, the report shows.