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Mr. Munawar Misbah Moin gives his views on accelerating development of solar sector in Bangladesh, emerging investment opportunities in the country and more…
Could you give our readers a brief introduction of your company?
The history of Solarising Bangladesh by Rahimafrooz started in the mid-1980s with our R&D and installation of the first ever Solar Home System (SHS) in 1989. The installation was located at West Nijra, Gopalgonj. This then remote village, became a center of attraction around miles for being a pioneering solar user. Back then, kerosene lamps were the only solutions for lighting and livelihoods for rural people; along with it came the inconveniences of darkness. Adopting to a new solution, new technology was thus a revolutionary feat 29 years ago. Given the market scenario and the prospects of renewables, Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd. (RREL) was incorporated in 2006. Till this date, we have installations over 35Mwp all over Bangladesh. We have created over 2000 green jobs over the years, for service delivery to the last mile consumers. Our diverse range of products and solutions include Energy efficient appliances, Solar Home Systems, Roof On Grid Solutions, EPC, Storage solutions, Off-grid solutions. Our module manufacturing plant manufactures solar panels ranging from 20-350 Wp.
RREL has created a smartphone application UDDOM, Kindly elaborate on the benefits of the app?
We have partnered with UDDOM, a smart phone application, to mobilize the untapped potential of the rural unserved market with last mile entrepreneurs. Though Uddom is at an initial stage it harnesses the ‘green entrepreneur’ or the ‘uddokta’ (Bengali for entrepreneur) by motivating and empowering them to create a community or pool of customers. It is an ecosystem that maximizes the entrepreneurial drive by delivering products and services to customers which improve the standard and quality of life for much of Bangladesh’s Population that lives in rural and remote areas, without direct access to energy, clean drinking water, finance and health care. The use and application of these products has a direct impact on the economic status of the user/consumer through capacity building, increased monetary savings, maintaining health, enabling education and potential to create a sustainable source of income. Collectively, the long-term benefits are undeniable.
In your view, what more needs to be done in Solarizing Bangladesh?
70% of our population lives in rural areas. As such any solution must deliver to enhance their living conditions and economic upliftment. As such distributed RE solution is the right way to go. We have been very successful with Solar Home Systems (SHS) with nearly 6 million roll out in the country, the largest in the world. From home, now DRE productive solutions like Irrigation pump; Mini gird; Agro Solar; Solar milk chiller, cold storage are areas that have significant potential provided right sized solution with financial viable proposition are brought together.
DRE in overall context will always succeed in reaching the unsaved and under served In addition, rooftop with Net Metering will increasingly be a viable proposition. Also certain large scale Solar MW IPP has prospect.
For all the above; the government needs to ensure certain regulatory framework to ensure quality, standards, compliance. Also provide tax and fiscal incentives for developers and users to escalate solar RE adaptation.
There also is a target of generating 10% of Bangladesh’s power from renewable resources by 2020. This is a collective effort on the part of both the private and public sector companies for now and going forward as well.
What technological breakthroughs do you foresee in the coming years?
We see energy efficient appliances like TV, Fan, Refrigerators making in roads into rural homes and communities. RE based productive solutions focused on Agro; fisheries, SME delivering new growth possibilities.
Energy Storage System moving to Li ion and more advanced technology will become key in DRE solutions and emerging Electric Vehicle segments. Also Solar Hybrid solutions will also drive in the area of Fast Charging for EVs. By helping cut operating costs, enhance revenues, and improve reliability, battery storage could play a crucial role in this evolution. ESS will also impact grid network stabilization.
In addition the internet, IoT, SMART phones platforms will be a game changer in getting all solutions in a connected platform.
What are the emerging investment opportunities in Bangladesh?
In the immediate terms investments will be Rooftop EPC and ESCO model. In addition solar irrigation pump and mini grids. Opportunities also exist Solar MW IPP as per the master plan of GOB. DRE solutions delivering productive and Agro solutions will gain momentum. Also EV and Fast charging will definitely pick up as already One million three wheeler EVs are existing in rural mass transportation. With GOB commitment towards 100% RE by 2050; technologies with focus on rural and urban energy solutions linked to productive and economic outcome will create new areas of opportunity.