Prospect of Solar Energy

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Bangladesh receives an average daily solar radiation of 4 – 6.5 kWh/m2. Despite large potential, utilization of solar energy has been limited to traditional uses such as crop and fish drying in the open sun. Solar photovoltaic (PV) are gaining acceptance for providing electricity to households and small businesses in rural areas.

According to a World Bank funded market survey, there is an existing market size of 0.5 million households for Solar Home Systems (SHS) on a fee-for-service basis in the offgrid areas of Bangladesh. This assessment is based on current expenditure levels on fuel for lighting and battery charging being substituted by SHS [World Bank, 1998]. Also it has been observed that in most developing countries, households typically spend not more than 5% of their income on lighting and use of small appliances. By this measure, about 4.8 million rural Bangladeshi households could pay for a solar home system [World Bank, 1998].

At present the national grid is serving only 50% of the nearly 10,000 rural markets and commercial centres in the country which are excellent market for centralized solar photovoltaic plants. Currently private diesel genset operators are serving in most of the off-grid rural markets and it has been found that 82% of them are also interested in marketing SHS in surrounding areas if some sorts of favorable financing arrangements are available [World Bank, 2000].

Throughout the country, different government administrative offices, NGO offices, Health Centres, Schools, banks, police stations etc are functioning. In the off-grid locations, these offices are either using traditional means (lantern, candles, kerosene wick lamps etc.) or operating their own diesel gensets. These offices have separate budgets for electricity and they can be easily served with solar photovoltaic applications.