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ADB to fund 500 MW Bangladesh PV project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will provide funds for a 500 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic project in Bangladesh’s off-grid areas.

The top executives of ADB assured a high-level Bangladesh delegation of the grants on the final day of its three-day Asia Solar Energy Forum’s conference, held in Bangkok, Thailand at the start of June. The delegation was led by the Prime Minister’s energy adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.

“The project needs an investment of about $3 billion, of which we proposed for 60 percent capital funds and 20 percent long-term soft loans,” a government source in the power division who attended the conference said. “The rest will be provided by the government and the private sector.”

He added: “But the exact amount of funds will be finalised after the project feasibility study by the ADB and Bangladesh Government.”

The 500 MW plan

The proposed 500 MW solar project aims to see photovoltaic installed in urban areas, and mini-grid solar plants in rural areas, officials who attended the conference said. Specifically, the plan includes social-impact projects where solar power will be delivered to rural health centres, schools and other important institutions.

The Bangladesh Government’s power division and state-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), along with private organisations such as Rahimafrooz Renewable and Grameen Shakti, will implement the project.

The nine ministries that would also help with its implementation, in coordination with the Power Division, are the ministries of railway, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), housing and public works, health and family planning, religious affairs, education, industries and agriculture.

Among the ministries, the power ministry would install solar panels worth 100 MW, while the railway division will install 50 MW worth at railway stations. Meanwhile, the LGED will install solar panels totaling 70 MW in cities; the housing and public works ministry will install 100 MW on public buildings; the health ministry 50 MW; and the religious affairs ministry will install 10 MW of solar panels at different religious institutions.

Furthermore, the education ministry will set up 40 MW worth of solar systems at schools and colleges, the industries ministry will install 20 MW at different state-owned mills and factories, and the agriculture ministry will set up solar-based irrigation pumps worth a total of 80 MW at different places.

The delegation officials claimed that the project would save about $100 million worth of fuel subsidies and will generate carbon credits of over $95 million.

ADB vice president Xiaoyu Zhao and senior members expressed their satisfaction with the proposed plan and assured all-out support to work with Bangladesh.

Investment fund

The ADB is also discussing with European countries about an investment fund of $500 million for solar projects in developing countries like Bangladesh, official sources said.

Germany, Spain and Italy are among the countries that have offered incentives to help bolster the solar-power generating capacity.

Every month more than 30,000 solar home systems are being installed in Bangladesh, thus adding 1.5 MW of electricity to the country’s national power generation.

The ADB arranged the conference as part of its policy to promote renewable energy, particularly solar-based power systems, in the Asian countries. It plans to introduce 3,000 MW of solar-based power systems in the region by 2013.

Delegations from most of the Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Maldives participated in the conference.

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