Go for rooftop solar panels to raise power output

Experts urge factory owners
Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, speaks at a seminar on “Net metering: opportunities and challenges” at the National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday. FERB

Factories should make the best use of their rooftops by installing solar panels to get power for their own consumption and for the national grid, experts said yesterday.

The cost of electricity generation will be much lower than that of the grid power if rooftop solar panels are used, said Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister's energy adviser.

At the same time, the factories would be able to sell their excess electricity at the tariff rate of the grid power, he said.

He spoke at a seminar on “Net metering: opportunities and challenges” at the National Press Club in Dhaka.

The Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) and the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh (SMMAB) jointly organised the programme.

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.

The government has enacted the guideline for net energy metering, which is a business model, said Mohammad Hossain, director general of the Power Cell under the power division.

“Now it is up to the industries and businesses to harness the power of home and rooftop solar panels.”

The government had earlier made it mandatory to install solar home and rooftop systems with every new power connection, but the initiative had failed to yield good results, he said.

Bangladesh has pledged to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, said Munawar Misbah Moin, president of SMMAB.

The goal number seven of the sustainable development goals calls for ensuring access to affordable and clean energy by 2030, he said.

“Net metering is a significant step to achieving the goals,” he said while making a presentation.

Bringing a change in the mindset is required to shift the focus from the existing centralised and fossil fuel-based power to clean and locally generated electricity, said Moin, also group director of Rahimafrooz (Bangladesh) Ltd.

He said it is technologically proven that solar home systems can supply power to the grid. The entrepreneur added the price of solar panels has gone down by 30 percent to 40 percent in the last five years and it would fall further.

Net metering reduces dependence on the grid power and cuts electricity bill of customers by way of lowering the use of electricity from the grid, said Shakila Aziz, assistant professor of the United International University. It also contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission through promoting generation of electricity from renewables while lessening the country's reliance on fossil fuels, she said during a presentation.

She proposed introducing a number of incentives for promoting rooftop solar panels -- providing such panel users with cuts in income tax, value-added tax and exemptions from property tax. 

Arun Karmaker, FERB chairman, and Sadrul Hasan, executive director, also spoke.


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