Govt takes novel initiative to increase use of solar power

The government has decided to introduce feed-in-tariff system for popularising the use of renewable energy in the urban area, officials said.

Under the system, individuals can set up solar power generating devices of any capacity on their premises, and use or sell the energy, produced in daylight only, to the national grid.

The government will purchase from the individuals the solar power generated only in daylight at a fixed tariff, as there would no need for batteries for storage.

Due to not using batteries, the generating cost will be lower than that required for the power produced with batteries in the off-grid remote zones as people store power for use at night, a source in the power development board said.

The system is expected to be popular among the people, as a ‘solar power business’ will take place between the government and the generating individuals, he said.

Engineer Shafique Ahmed, director, renewable energy division of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), said the feed-in-tariff system would be effective in accelerating renewable energy generation.

He said the government at a meeting on Monday had annulled the previous directive of keeping the solar power system at every individual’s home for getting new power connections from the gridline.

As per the government decision, it is not compulsory now to use or set up solar power generating facilities against new connections. Earlier, the government made it binding to use at least three per cent power from renewable sources for the connections.

Another official at BPDB said the government has cancelled the directive in a meeting on “installing solar power on every roof” as actually the order was not being followed properly and there was no effective monitoring mechanism by the government.

He said for getting new power connections from the grid, people were setting up just a panel on their roofs which was an act of ‘show’, and soon after getting the connections they did not bother about the solar power set-up.

He said some people had rented solar panel systems for several days as the power officials made visits to see whether they had set up the solar power panels for getting three per cent power from renewable source.

As a result, due to lack of monitoring and other malpractice by the users the plan could not finally be executed.

Engineer Ahmed said leave alone three per cent, individual solar power contribution in the urban area was less than half per cent. “That’s why the government’s earlier initiative has failed.”

According to some experts, the new feed-in-tariff system might be effective, although it is not mandatory.

Due to the scopes for people to engage in solar power business, the system might become popular with many as they will invest money for generating solar power and sell it to the government.

The government has already talked with the stakeholders and interested individuals regarding the new feed-in-tariff system for generating renewable solar power at different meetings.

The initiative is maturing fast and soon there would be a specific guideline, tariff structure and other rules, under which the individual ‘power generating’ mini-entrepreneurs would feel secure in dealing with the government.

In the new system, the domestically generated power would be added to the national grid, no matter if it is used or not in a particular urban area, a BPDB source said.

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