Private investors urge government to buy their solar power

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:17, Mar 04,2021


Private investors in solar power plants in Bangladesh on Wednesday urged the government to purchase their electricity linking their plants to the national electricity grid in order to protect their business.

They said that their business was falling ever since public power distributors such as the Rural Electrification Board and the Power Development Board had expanded their activities to remote areas where solar plants had been the only source of electricity since 2010.

They said that poor people in remote islands and chars were turning their back on relatively expensive solar power after having access to subsidised electricity supplied through the national grid.

‘We went for investment only after the authorities concerned, including the REB and the PDB, had assured us of not expanding their distribution networks to some hard-to-reach areas in Bangladesh,’ said DM Majibor Rahman, chairman of Solar Minigrid Association of Bangladesh, at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.

SMAB is a platform of 26 companies with Tk 200 crore investments in solar power plants worth 5 MW.

Majibor said that the power plants were established following the financial and technological modelling of the government-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited for an operational lifetime of 20 years.

Of the investment, SMAB leaders said, they injected 20 per cent while 50 per cent came as grants from the government and international sources and 30 per cent as government loans.

The price of a unit of electricity generated by the solar power plants has also been set by the government at Tk 30.

The public power distributors started operation in the areas where solar power plants are operating in 2017, selling a unit of power at maximum Tk 9.

‘We are frightened. Our business has fallen drastically and we are likely to go bankrupt,’ said Mostaq Ahmmed, SMAB general secretary.

SMAB leaders said that the guidelines for the implementation of solar power development passed in 2013 ensured that private investors would get the opportunity to supply electricity to the national grid in case of the grid expanding to the hard-to-reach areas.

The price of electricity would be determined considering 15 per cent profit on investment, SMAB leaders said, quoting the guidelines.

There are 26 solar power mini grids in the country and 17 of them have already been overtaken by public distribution system, said SMAB leaders.

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