1000 MW solar power project stuck in red tape

Despite the government’s commitment in the National Plan to increase renewable energy production, an investment proposal to generate 1,000 MW of solar power is awaiting approval as the country continues to face power-crisis.

US-based Pacific Energy-owned Eleris Energy Global LLC came up with the 1.79 billion project in February 2022, just before the Russia-Ukraine war that sent global energy prices soaring, forcing governments to freeze LNG imports. In the spot market. This has resulted in a cycle of power outages across the country.

Eliris was able to lease 5,000 acres of wetlands at Swarndwip in Noakhali district through a joint-venture agreement in February this year. Covering an area of ​​370 square kilometers, Swarnadwip is an island acquired by the Bangladesh Army, which was handed over to the army in 2013.

According to the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan submitted to the Conference of Parties (COP-26), Bangladesh aims to produce 40 percent clean electricity by 2040 as part of its commitment to reduce the impact of climate change.

Bangladesh has submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) with an unconditional commitment of 911 MW from its own resources and another 4114 MW conditional on the availability of funding and technical assistance.

If approved on time, the project could have added 200 MW of electricity at a time when the country is facing a power crisis. According to project documents, the facility could be ready to produce 1,000 MW in two-and-a-half years.

Eleris is still awaiting a response to a letter of interest (LOI) to the Bangladesh Power Division from February.

The officials of the company held meetings with the higher-ups of the power department to approve the project, but no progress was seen in the project.

Eliris Energy Global LLC Chief Operating Officer Jerry Price told The Daily Star that the land they leased for the project in Gold Island is under water for eight months a year.

“The 1,000 MW solar project at Swarndwip will provide cheap electricity to the people of Bangladesh with an economic impact of more than USD$2.42 billion. There are more than 1,000 construction jobs as well as more than 100 high-paying operational jobs that are ongoing,” he said.

Jerry believes the $1.79 billion project will make Bangladesh a pioneer in renewable energy.

“Despite all these positive economic benefits and positive technical feedback, the project is stuck at the approval stage”, added Jerry.

According to Power Division data, the power generation capacity has increased to 22,348 MW in 2022 from 4,924 MW in 2009. Over the past 13 years, $25 billion has been spent to build this capability.

The Power Sector Master Plan drawn up in 2010 pledged to generate at least 10 percent of total electricity generation from renewable energy, a provision dropped in the revised Power Sector Master Plan in 2016.

According to the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, Bangladesh currently generates a total of 948 MW of which 714 MW comes from solar and 588 MW is connected to the national grid.

This reporter tried to contact Minister of State for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipur over telephone for his comments on the project. He didn’t answer the phone or reply to the text why the project is still on hold.

Nirod Chandra Mandal, Joint Secretary (Renewable Energy) of the Department of Power under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources told The Daily Star that they have received a proposal from Eleris Energy Global which has held several meetings with them.

“We have some queries about the project which is under process,” he said.

M Zakir Hussain Khan, executive director of Change Initiative, a renewable energy research platform, told The Daily Star that renewables initiatives do not enjoy the flexible provisions and benefits enjoyed by fossil fuel-based independent power producers in the country.

“If foreign investment in renewable energy is delayed unnecessarily, it will send a negative message to the global market. It could affect the adaptation fund for us”, he said, adding that Bangladesh lacks political resolve to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as promised. Mujib on Climate Prosperity Plan and Power Sector Master Plan.

He commented that the speed with which the government acquired land for the Rampal power project was absent in terms of renewables. Rather, renewable energy faces a blow with a 37 percent VAT and tax on equipment for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, the public relations office of the power department mentioned that the proposal for the production of 4000 megawatts of solar power is awaiting approval.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *