How would you describe the scenario again when Bangladesh put in its first photo voltaic residence system?
As a co-founder of the Grameen Bank, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for microcredit operations, I walked 20,000 villages within the nation between 1976 and 1996 the place the debtors insisted us that getting electrical energy will help them enhance their high quality of life. That point the quantity of electrical energy era in all of Bangladesh was meager, even the cities had been failing to get sufficient energy.
We had been searching for choices, and whereas attending numerous seminars in several international locations we heard about renewable vitality, particularly about photo voltaic vitality. Then we began working with photo voltaic vitality, biogas, and wind vitality via forming an organization, specifically Grameen Shakti.
In 1996 we started to import 17 W from international locations like Australia, the USA, and Japan, which price us $7/Wp, and we used automotive batteries to retailer vitality. However clients had been unable to purchase photo voltaic residence techniques because of the excessive price. So, we designed an inexpensive month-to-month installment-based monetary model on the price of kerosene oil in order that they will purchase [what we call] photo voltaic residence techniques (SHS). They had been requested to pay half of the price as down fee and be the proprietor of an SHS at the price of kerosene.
Regardless of the low costs, many poor individuals had been unable to purchase the techniques, thus we thought how the SHS could possibly be turned to a supply of revenue for them. So, with photo voltaic panels we launched a cellphone charging system, operating tv, lighting in village retailers amongst others which let individuals work late at evening and earn extra.
How did you enhance the size?
At one stage Worldwide Finance Corp. gave us $750,000 as a loan, which helped us to decrease down fee to 25% and make techniques extra inexpensive. By 2002, we may promote 10,000 items of SHSs thus the USAID agreed to pay $four million via authorities channels which helped us to broaden this system. Later, the World Bank, Japan Worldwide Cooperation Company, and lots of different financiers got here ahead. Now Bangladesh has 5.eight million SHSs that are lighting tens of millions of rural households and village retailers the place there isn’t a chance of reaching grid electrical energy.
What obstacles did you face when it comes to securing common funds from individuals who had borrowed for the SHS?
The price of SHSs was very excessive then, reducing the price was a problem. From Japan, we purchased panels at $5/Wp. After that, the Japanese firm agreed to decrease the price by $1/Wp, solely solely for Bangladesh since we had been offering the techniques to the agricultural poor. On the first stage, individuals like faculty lecturers, wealthy farmers, and store homeowners may afford to purchase the techniques and to maintain up with the month-to-month installments.
When the system costs went down, many extra may afford it, and the dimensions of month-to-month installment additionally went down, so we didn’t face many issues securing fee.
What’s the contribution of SHSs to rural electrification?
The contribution is immeasurable. 1000’s of rural villages had been in darkness simply after the sundown and folks had been going to mattress as early as potential. The SHSs introduced life to rural villages and contributed to boost their earnings via participating revenue producing sectors.
Some organizations are putting in SHSs underneath the federal government’s “Taka” program. Are these supplied freed from price?
In lots of areas there isn’t a grid electrical energy, however on the identical time individuals don’t have any capability to purchase SHSs. As the federal government plans to make sure electrical energy for all by 2020, the federal government is offering the SHSs to them freed from price – to enhance their high quality of life.
You dreamed of turning Bangladesh right into a “solar nation” greater than 20 years in the past. How shut is Bangladesh to attaining this imaginative and prescient?
I used to be receiving great responses after we launched the SHSs. However the authorities didn’t take renewables severely till now. In my definition, if over 50% of individuals of a rustic use solar energy every day that may be known as a ‘solar nation.’ We’ve to present extra effort to it. If we set up extra solar-run irrigation pumps, streetlights, and rooftop photo voltaic in each family, the goal will likely be achieved simply. Presently some 40 million individuals in Bangladesh use solar energy out of the 160 million whole inhabitants.
What sort of challenges does the photo voltaic sector face these days?
The primary drawback is there isn’t a roadmap from the federal government’s aspect as to learn how to obtain the goal of producing 10% of the nation’s electrical energy from renewables by 2021. We’ve to organize an motion plan for learn how to obtain it, for instance, how a lot to generate from irrigation pumps, how a lot from the rooftop, how a lot from SHSs, from floating photo voltaic, from wind, and from large-scale crops.
We’ve to create a price range with incentives, decrease the rate of interest of bank loans, specific sectors must be given duty that you must generate not less than a sure quantity.
What kind of monetary challenges does sector face?
Thus far, we didn’t see any allocation within the fiscal price range for the renewable vitality sector. We get some tender loans from numerous world monetary establishments however that isn’t enough to assist the business to flourish. Furthermore, there isn’t a efficient supervisor on the authorities degree to take care of the sector. A separate ministry needs to be set as much as look after the business.
Interview by Syful Islam