BSTI certification now required for solar home system batteries
The government has prohibited sale and distribution of batteries used in solar home systems (SHS) that have not been certified by the Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI).
This is to prevent the use of substandard batteries, says a notification issued by the industries ministry recently.
This means that firms have to comply with national standards when making the batteries, said BSTI Director (Standards) Nilufa Hoque.
The key SHS component will face testing before being granted the required licences to be sold in the market, she said.
In its notification issued on October 6, the Ministry of Industries said the new rule would come into effect two months into the announcement.
The BSTI is also in the process of bringing solar panels under its mandatory licencing arrangement for firms that market solar modules, she added.
The move comes at a time when the market for renewable energy products, particularly solar projects, is gradually increasing mainly due to the government's thrust, low cost loans and people's interest at tapping into renewable energy sources.
Bangladesh has 58 lakh SHS and other solar-based power projects, which accounts for 64 per cent of the country's 650 megawatt (MW) renewable energy production capacity.
Bangladeshi businesses annually import about 150 MWs of solar modules while local manufacturers also cater to a portion of the market, where the demand mainly stems from solar power plant operators and rooftop based solar projects, said industry insiders.
To ensure that quality products are being used, the BSTI formulated a standard for solar modules, inverters, batteries and other materials used in solar power projects after it was found that substandard products were being imported.
Until now, businesses did not have to comply with the national standards when producing components for solar-based renewable energy systems as the BSTI licencing was not mandatory.
Munawar Misbah Moin, president of the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh, said they have been demanding compliance to be ensured in the sector for the last few years.
"One of the problems in the sector was that here was no certified product in the market either for rooftops or SHS," he said.
Moin, also managing director of Rahimafrooz Solar, said manufacturers and importers have to register themselves with the certification body in India for solar module business.
No one can judge the quality of a solar panel by just seeing it and so, introducing the BSTI mark will ensure quality, he added.
Moin went on to say that there should be a quota for domestically manufactured solar modules so that the local industry could flourish.
For example, if there are 100 projects, 20-25 of those should comprise products made by local solar panel producers.
China has the largest solar energy industry in the world and this was made possible through patronisation, said Moin.