In Search of 24/7 Sunlight -Ifrith Islam
The word `power’ has its own power what is represented in the bulk and variety of energy gadget inventions around the world in an astounding way. The slogan `let there be light at every home’ is getting popular with frantic efforts made by the government and their development partners. In search for energy sources, be it sustainable or not, people are wandering since the dawn of human civilization. Energy scarcity still prevails and the planet is experiencing ever increasing demand for the energy. Nowadays, people are opening their curious mind to the world to acknowledge the newer and renewable sources of energy such as solar power but then again it got only invented and never had the closer chance to take the lead in the exact direction until recently.
Solar power is produced by collecting sunlight and converting it into electricity. This is done by using solar panels, which are large flat panels made up of many individual solar cells. A photovoltaic cell (PV cell) is a specialized semiconductor diode that converts visible light into direct current (DC). Some PV cells can also convert infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) radiation into DC electricity. Large sets of PV cells can be connected together to form solar modules, arrays, or panels.
The prices of the solar panels depend on their size and capability of the solar power produced and supplied by them. The cost of photovoltaic cells was as high as $76 in 1977 but it came as low as $0.30 in 2015. In the US a solar panel cost between $7 to $9 per watt: A 5 kW system would cost around $25,000-$35,000. In Bangladesh the cost of a home solar system installation ranges from Tk 5000 to Tk 10000.
Solar electricity is most often used in remote locations, where national grid doesn’t reach although it is becoming more popular in urban areas as well. And what’s more, it became one of the most a ground-breaking projects in Bangladesh, widening the scopes for the villagers of remote to augment their income by selling solar energy in excess after their use to the neighbours.
Recently, United Nations declared Bangladesh one of the 13 winners and with the help of SOLshare’s innovative technical solution, the households without the means to finance their own solar power system are able to purchase clean electricity from their neighbours at a low cost. Sunlight is free though not the home solarising process. That makes certain of the replacement of the more expensive kerosene which is responsible for the indoor and greenhouse gas pollution. People in the rural areas do not afford the highly expensive energy so their initial attempt to bring change in energy consumption with little expense is getting shape gradually.
The little high initial up front or down payment required for acquiring a home solar system ups the financial burden though buying it from a swarm grid is cheaper that brings the clean energy to the non-bankable population. People can sell electricity back to the grid if their system is producing more than the electricity needed. They can sell the surplus back to the grid through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
A German-Bangladeshi spin-off of MicroEnergy International GmbH, founded in 2014, ME SOLshare, piloted the world’s first swarm grid which is an ICT-enabled electricity trading network for rural households with and without solar home systems in Shariatpur in Bangladesh. The Shariatpur swarm grid is the first implementation of swarm electrification; researched with the support of the Technical University Berlin and with conceptual help of MicroEnergy International.
The swarm electrification proposes decentralized bottom-up sharing infra-system by linking together individual stand-alone energy systems to form a mini-grid that can eventually interconnect with legacy infrastructure.
Solar electricity is green renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save over a tonne and a half of carbon dioxide per year – that’s more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime.
SOLshare combines solar home system and centralized mini-grids to access renewable electricity at lower cost, along with its implementation partner, the NGO UBOMUS, its financing partner IDCOL [Infrastructure Development Company Limited] and research partner United International University- Centre for Energy Research.
ShouroBangla 141kWp Solar Mini-grid at Paratali Island of Narshingdi District
UIU- Centre for Energy Research is working in design and development of several solar diesel hybrid mini-grid for rural electrification, grid connected PV power plant and environmental projects.
Hydron 141kWp Solar Mini-grid in Gorgori Island of Rajshahi District
UIU- Centre for Energy Research (CER) has been given 1 crore and 10 lakh taka from World Bank through Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) to establish a solar DC mini-grid laboratory.
IDCOL was established in 1997 by the Government of Bangladesh and is playing a major role in bridging the financing gap for developing medium to large-scale infrastructure and renewable energy projects in Bangladesh.
IDCOL installed solar PV based mini-grid projects in the remote areas of the country and these projects are providing quality electricity to the households and small commercial users which are encouraging to do more commercial activities in the project areas.
The mini-grid project has successfully created access to low- emission electricity for almost 5000 rural households in Bangladesh. IDCOL further targets to install 50 solar mini-grids by 2018.
Another innovative and environment friendly system- solar based irrigation system for the agro-based economy of Bangladesh. The program is intended to provide irrigation facility to off-grid areas and thereby reduce dependency on fossil fuel. IDCOL has approved 459 solar irrigation pumps of which 324 are already in operation. The remaining pumps are expected to come into operation shortly. IDCOL has recently focused on the energy efficiency sector and the following steps are taken to work-
Energy Efficient Brick Kilns.
Energy Efficient Boilers and Industrial Machineries.
Manufacturing of Energy Efficient Components and Appliances. Bangladesh is endowed with plentiful supply of renewable sources of energy. Bangladesh receives an average daily solar radiation of 4–6.5 kWh/m2. Solar photovoltaic (PV) are gaining acceptance for providing electricity to households and small business enterprises in grid remote rural areas. Under the ‘Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED) Programme. So far, a total of 37,000 SHSs with a capacity of about 2.5 MWp have been installed in the country.
Solar electricity and its prospect to supply solar energy to every soul of Bangladesh nay the whole world can be a dream of an electrical engineer. The same dream can be dreamt by Bangladesh government, cooperating with the enthusiasts, investors, scientists, development partners and other stakeholders who are working relentlessly to provide solar electricity to every household of Bangladesh.