The largest solar park in the country glistens in the sun on Arakan Drive road that connects Teknaf and Cox's Bazar.
The construction of the 20 megawatt on-grid park is a step in the right direction to reduce dependency on non-renewable energy sources.
The sprawling 116 acre park at Hnila has been built on the bank of the Naf River at a price tag of Tk 300 crore, by Teknaf Solartech Energy Ltd (TSEL), a subsidiary of Jules Power Ltd, under the maiden Independent Power Production initiative.
“Within a year, TSEL is up and running with 86,000 solar panels,” Md Mizanur Rahaman, the plant manager, told The Daily Star recently. The clean power plant began contributing to the national grid on September 13.
The state-of-the-art facility has been set up using panels imported from China and inverters from Germany, added the manager. The government allows tax- and Vat-free import of machinery for green energy production.
The plant is benefitting over 8 lakh people and thousands of small to medium businesses in Teknaf and Ukhiya upazila, said Md Riazul Haque, assistant engineer of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) of Cox's Bazar. The people of these areas used to face severe load-shedding previously.
Usually, demand for power in these two upazilas stands at 17 megawatts; the remaining 3 megawatts produced at the park will be added to the national grid to supply power to other areas of need, he added.
TSEL is supplying the power to BPDB at a price of $0.13 for every kilowatt/hour.
To accelerate clean power generation, the government formed the “Renewable Energy Policy-2009”, which envisions 10 percent of total energy be procured from clean energy sources by 2021.
However, not much ground has been covered in this regard, as total generation from all forms of renewable energy, including wind, currently stands at well below 1 percent. The only other on-grid solar power plant in the country lies in Sarishabari upazila, and has a capacity to produce 3MW.
“We are happy to serve the country with clean energy,” said the plant manager. To give a clearer picture, a 20 megawatt power plant running on diesel would emit about 20,440 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
The plant runs from sunrise to sunset and is supervised by some 15 engineers. They have also hired an expert from India for six months to help set up the plant.