Even after two years, a government move to generate solar power using the rooftops of Dhaka University buildings has made little headway.
In early 2019, Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) had approached the Dhaka University authorities with the plan. It sought to use the rooftops of the university's 72 buildings for solar power generation. DPDC had also selected Bengal Solar, a private firm, to execute the project -- at its own cost -- under the independent power producer (IPP) model, with a promise to purchase electricity from the company for 20 years.
Prof Saiful Haque, director of Institute of Energy at Dhaka University, who has been coordinating the scheme on behalf of DU, said the rooftops have a potential to generate about 5 MW of solar power.
But nearly two years on, the project is still stuck in the starting block. Only recently, and that too after a long persuasion, did a tripartite meeting take place between the project's private sponsor, the rooftop provider, and the power purchaser. However, the issue of tariff has remained a bone of contention between the stakeholders, sources inside DPDC and DU said.
Sources said while Bengal Solar offered 11 US cents a unit, DPDC was asking for 7.5 US cents for the same. At one stage -- after the government introduce the net-metering policy to facilitate consumers' sale of unconsumed solar power to distribution companies -- DPDC officials skipped the negotiations and offered DU to sell the electricity under the new policy, which caused another delay in settling the issue.
Due to the excessive delay, DU authorities recently wrote a letter to the Power Secretary to intervene and settle the power tariff issue and expedite the project execution, UNB has learned.
When contacted, DPDC chief engineer Mohiuddin Ahmed said they're hopeful of settling the issue soon. "We've already held the tripartite meeting and asked the project sponsor to provide a detailed analysis of the tariff offered for the project."
Earlier DPDC had unsuccessfully tried to pursue different government agencies, including the Food Directorate, the Shilpakala Academy, the Women and Children Directorate, and the Education Directorate, for using their rooftops for the project, but none agreed.
Officials said DPDC has initiated the move for solar power projects as part of the government plan to generate 10 percent electricity from solar power by 2020 to promote renewable energy across the country. The country's solar power generation still remains below 450 MW, while the total power generation capacity is about 23,000 MW, the officials said.