BD Govt to buy idle electricity from solar power plants

Sadrul Hasan, UNB Staff
Dhaka, Jan 07 – The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda) has finalised a draft policy guideline for purchasing idle electricity from solar power plants now being used for running irrigation pumps. Sreda officials said the organisation, responsible for preparing policy matters related to renewable energy, recently finalised the guidelines accommodating opinions and experiences of different stakeholders. It is now preparing to place the guideline to the Power Division for approval.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to place our final draft before the Power Division within a week,” said an assistant director of Sreda.
He said Sreda has already implemented a pilot project in Kushtia to find out how it functions and see if there is any technical or financial problem in applying the guideline.
The idea of purchasing electricity from solar-run irrigation pump came from the government’s success in purchasing power from rooftop solar plants installed in office and industrial buildings, Sreda officials said.
During the off-season, the government will buy electricity from solar irrigation plant operators. Under the plan, pump operators will be able to sell their idle electricity to the national grid using local distribution grid lines.
At present, the government is purchasing unconsumed electricity from rooftop solar plants installed in buildings under a net metering guideline prepared by Sreda. But farmers are not getting such facilities due to some technical and financial bottlenecks, said the officials.
“Sreda has been asked to address those bottlenecks and prepare a guideline suitable for solar irrigation pump project,” Mohammad Alauddin, additional secretary of the Power Division (in charge of renewable energy) told UNB.
After the net metering system gained popularity, the government moved to purchase electricity from solar irrigation pumps, he said.
The latest statistics of the Power Division show that different distribution entities are purchasing over 4.25MW from 179 industrial consumers.
A Sreda official said the government is moving with the idea of purchasing electricity from solar irrigation pump operators with two main objectives.
The first is to ensure optimum utilisation of electricity generated from solar plants installed for the operation of irrigation pumps. “And the second objective is to make the solar irrigation pump projects commercially viable,” he noted.
Officials at Sreda said the country has currently around 1.34 million diesel-operated irrigation pumps across the country which covers 3.4 million hectares.
The government has targeted to replace these diesel-operated pumps with solar which will ensure 150MW of energy generation from the irrigation sector.
The officials said 1,100 diesel-powered pumps have so far been replaced with solar-operated pumps.
State-owned financial institution Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Idcol) has financed the projects while some NGOs and commercial firms installed the solar pumps with a tripartite arrangement.
These pump operators also need some support to make the venture fully commercial, said the official adding that if the projects are proven to be commercially viable, then many people will be encouraged to replace the diesel-fired pumps with solar-operated ones, the official said. – UNB