Bangladesh to invest in solar panels but not everyone has access to power

Bangladesh is investing in 22 solar power projects which would generate an additional 1,370MW of power. But universal electricity access is far from a reality, with one quarter of the population still left in the dark.

The Bangladesh state-run infrastructure company Idcol have confirmed that they are looking for a private company to build and run a 10MW solar power plant in the northwestern area of Bangladesh, at the cost of Tk 69 crore (£6.2 million).

The solar plant will sit across 42 acres of land in the northwestern border town of Tetulia. As it stands, the plant will commence producing power in February 2019.

In addition to the above project, the government of Bangladesh have also approved another 22 on-grid solar power projects. This will add 1,370MW to the national grid, helping small communities keeping the lights on all year round.

By 2020, Bangladesh has vowed to ensure that 10% of its power generation comes from renewable sources. In February 2017, the installed capacity rate in Bangladesh stood at 13,555MW.

Currently solar only accounts for 2% of the country’s installed energy sources, with gas accounting for the most at 65%, oil at 20%, coal at 1.8% and the rest sourced from diesel or hydro energy.

The Bangladesh government has pledged to ensure that over 50% of its energy mix will be sourced from coal energy projects, but they still have a long way to go to make this happen.

The government in Bangladesh should reprioritise its agenda to support, finance and build more base-load power projects that ensure the supply of uninterruptible electricity. It is only with low-cost reliable electricity from coal, gas and hydro that communities and individuals can lift themselves out of poverty.

The mission of every government should be to ensure that everyone can power their lives, ensuring they are safe walking home at night with street lamps; providing power to schools giving a good education to children; or allowing people to create their own businesses.