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Nazmul Likhon
Rural Power Company Limited, under the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, will implement a 100 megawatt solar power plant with facilities for vegetable cultivation in Madarganj of Jamalpur district, according to a RPCL senior official.
RPCL executive director (Engineering), Mohammad Salim Bhuiyan told Bangladesh Post, it is an IPP (Independent Power Producer)-based project. The power plant will implement by a joint venture company formed by RPCL and China Railway International Group (CRIG).
‘Around 450 acres of land will be needed for the project. We have selected the location near the bank of Jamuna River, where the power plant will be set up by installing solar panels on the ground in the power-generating centre, and under the panel, facilities will be provided for vegetable cultivation,’ he added.

He also said, the project cost is around $190 million. A Chinese bank will provide minimum 80 percent loan of the total project cost. Remaining amount will be invested by RPCL and CRIG as equity. We hope the power plant will start commercial operation by June, 2020.

Salim Bhuiyan also said that the Prime Minister had given directives to use abandoned land for the development of the country. According to her direction, we are going to implement the project. There are many facilities in the project. The people will get electricity from the power plant which is environ-friendly. Besides, vegetables can be cultivated there. This project will ensure the proper use of abandoned land. We have also planned to implement such projects in other places of the country.

The government has taken an initiative to produce 10 percent renewable energy of the total power generation. Of this, maximum generation will come from solar. Various projects have already been taken up in order to increase the capacity of renewable energy.

Last September, the country’s first solar park with a capacity of 20 MW kicked off in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar, opening a new door of opportunity in the power sector.

The power plant has been installed by a private organization and its electricity is being added to the national grid. It has been installed on the bank of the Naf River in the border area of Bangladesh and Myanmar, where salt was earlier produced. Now solar power is being generated to the benefit of electricity users in Teknaf and Ukhiya upazila of Cox’s Bazar. Nowadays, load shedding is not happening as it did earlier. Up to 80% of the total electricity demand of the two upazila subscribers is being supplied from the power plant,” said official sources.

State-owned IDCOL had installed about 5 million Solar Home Systems (SHS) in the remote areas where electrification through grid expansion is challenging and costly. The programme has been acclaimed as the largest off-grid renewable energy programme in the world.