Electrifying Off-grid area in Bangladesh with Green Energy and Smart Technology

This post was originally published in 2015. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

by ASM Mominul Hasan (guest post), , 8 Comments

Electricity for all by 2021″ with this vision in mind the government of Bangladesh has taken many initiatives to ensure electricity for all the people of Bangladesh by 2021, the Golden Jubilee of it’s Independence. Electrifying every individual households in this country is not technically and financially feasible by extending the national grid. Government has initiated the Solar Home System (SHS) based rural electrification program in 2003 through Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) to provide electricity to the off grid areas of Bangladesh. So far the program has installed more than 3.6 million SHS all over the country, The program has become the most successful SHS based rural electrification program in the world. Around 11.5% of the total population of the country are getting benefits from the program.

Happy moment selfie with the entire stakeholders after successfully commissioning of Sunny Islands 8.0.

Happy moment selfie with the entire stakeholders after successfully commissioning of Sunny Islands 8.0.

Bangladesh is experiencing an average GDP growth rate of 6% for the last 20 years. With the increasing economy the demand for electricity in rural areas are increasing apart from basic lighting. . People are willing to have more energy for comfort,  education, communication, entertainment (cooling fan, freezer, Color TV, CD, VCD players, computer and internets etc.).  Recently people are complaining, that they are unable to meet their energy demands according to their need with the solar home systems. Grid extension to these areas are not always  financially feasible and in some cases technically challenging (islands and sand bars). A Solar-Diesel Hybrid Mini-Grids are seem to be suitable solution for meeting the increased energy demand of these areas and they are becoming popular in Bangladesh to provide grid quality electricity to these off grid areas.

Inverter and Control room of ShouroBangla mini-grid project. In Photo: me and Devdas (site engineer of mini-grid)

Inverter and Control room of ShouroBangla mini-grid project. In Photo: me and Devdas (site engineer of mini-grid)

In 2010, a 100kWp Solar Mini-grid was installed in Sandwip Island in the bay of Bengal as pilot basis. With the experience of the pilot project, another 3 minigrids are under operation and 9 other mini-grid projects are in the pipeline to be installed in different off-grid location of Bangladesh. With the financial assistance from the international agencies [like WB, JICA, DFID, GPOBA, USAID, ADB and KfW] the government of Bangladesh through the IDCOL is supporting the implementation of the solar-diesel hybrid projects in Bangladesh.

 

Grid quality and clean energy

The projects designed, developed and are being implemented under the supervision of Director, CER, UIU are listed below:

SNProject LocationCapacity(kWp)Project SponsorDesigned beneficiaryImplementation stage
1.Raipura, Narsingdi141ShouroBangla LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Operational sinceFebruary, 2015
2.Bagha, Rajshahi141Hydron Bangladesh LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Operational sinceFebruary, 2015
3.Narayanpur, Kurigram158.25Gramer Alo Ltd.Households -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
4.Monpura, Bhola177Solar Electro Bangladesh LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
5.Godagari, Rajshahi148.5AVA Development LtdHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
6.RupshaChor, Sirajgong130SolarGao LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
7.Daulotpur, Kustia183.75Parasol Energy LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
8.Islampur, Jamalpur162G-Tech Solution Ltd.Households -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Implementation stage
9.Chorsolmari, Kurigram247Uttaranchal Renewable Energy LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Approval stage
10..Doulatpur, ManikgonjSuperstar Renewable Energy LimitedHouseholds -Village shops -Small Industrial -Irrigation Pumps –Approval stage

 

The project locations are shown in the map of Bangladesh according to the above mentioned serial number.

bangladesh

 

Out of 11 mini-grids projects implemented or under implementation stage are designed by CER, UIU.  Each of these plants is expected to supply green energy to a 500 – 1200 rural households, 100 – 300  rural village market shops, 10 – 20  irrigation pumps, schools and the rural community clinic with energy efficient appliances.

 

Integration of Smart Technology of SMA

The robustness and reliability, the availability and worldwide after sales service of of SMAs products inspired me to choose SMA electronics for the abovementioned mini-grids. The extended warranty terms of SMA also inspire the project sponsor and financier to made SMA as their first choice. All the projects use the sunny tripower grid tied inverters with sunny island off grid inverter along with SMA charge controllers. Considering the future extension provision in mind, MC box 36 has been used in all the projects to keep the flexibility to extend the project size up to 300kWp.

 ShouroBangla 141 kWp Solar Power Plant. In photo: Front row (from left): Prof. Peter Adelmann (hs-Ulm), Shahriar Ahmed Chowdury (CER), Back row(from left): Me (CER) Sabbir Ahmed (ShouroBangla Ltd.) Timothy Michael Walsh (SERIS), Jan-Hendrik Soehlemann (GIZ), Hannes Kirchhoff (Micro Energy International), Lia Strenge (Micro Energy International) and Tim Schünemann (Micro Energy International)

ShouroBangla 141 kWp Solar Power Plant. In photo: Front row (from left): Prof. Peter Adelmann (hs-Ulm), Shahriar Ahmed Chowdury (CER), Back row(from left): Me (CER) Sabbir Ahmed (ShouroBangla Ltd.) Timothy Michael Walsh (SERIS), Jan-Hendrik Soehlemann (GIZ), Hannes Kirchhoff (Micro Energy International), Lia Strenge (Micro Energy International) and Tim Schünemann (Micro Energy International)

As the projects are installed in completely off-grid and remote places of Bangladesh. Battery banks with capacity of about 300,000-500,000Ah  @ 2 V are used in these minigrids and a backup generator (ranges from 60 kVA to 120 kVA) is kept to provide energy during the rainy, overcast or foggy days in each of the minigrid. Produced energy from the plant are distributed through a 3-phase, 4-wire distribution system. The number of distribution feeders depends on the position of loads / consumers. For the simplicity of the projects the number of distribution feeders are kept with 5.  Maximum lengths of each feeders are limited to 2 km to reduce the loss in distribution feeders. While designing the systems local grid codes and distribution codes are maintained, So, that if grid is extended in the future so that the minigrid can easily supply its generated power to the national grid.

Along with the technical design Bangladesh is capable to produce all the equipment and material having adequate standard required for mini-grid implementation except inverters, charge controllers and diesel generators. Incorporation of local product helps to keep the energy cost within the purchasing capacity of the rural off grid people.

The projects mentioned here are the first few baby steps – but let’s hope this is the beginning of a much bigger story. We believe and hope that Bangladesh will have the success story in solar-diesel hybrid minigrid based rural electrification program in the world like its SHS based rural electrification program.

 

Co-Author:

ShariarShahriar Ahmed Chowdhury

Lead Consultant of the mentioned minigrid projects and Director, Centre for Energy Research (CER), United International University (UIU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Email: shahriar.ac@gmail.com

Electrifying Off-grid area in Bangladesh with Green Energy and Smart Technology
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8 Comments
  1. jose amin amar a says:

    Para un proyecto de energia
    solar en la costa atlantica necesito contactar a su representante en colombia bogota o barranquilla
    Gracias

    Reply
  2. Victor Shyllon says:

    This project i read about is great and well understand the process and equipment use on these project.

    Reply
  3. hesham says:

    Dear sir .
    please i hope to do with you alot of work. i wait your e.mail
    regards
    hesham elmoselhy
    C E O

    Reply
    • Henrik Schenck says:

      Dear Hesham Elmoselhy,

      please let us know what kind of solutions or products of SMA you are interested in.
      Thank you.

      Kind regards
      Henrik Schenck

      Reply
  4. T Rahim says:

    I dont know. why u dont have this kind of projects in my country “Algeria”, even we know that we have huge potential of solar energy in the south.

    Reply
  5. George kosgei says:

    it is always a rule that in a grid a Low voltage network is subject to 600m from a distribution transformer for adequte fault detection. what is the distance limit for a mini-grid ditribution network owing the entire distribution network is purely low voltage.

    Reply

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