Bangladesh Railway (BR) is going to set up rooftop solar plants in its stations, office buildings, junctions, workshops and staff quarters across the country as part of government’s plan to promote green energy across the country.
Three major stakeholders -- Power Division, Bangladesh Railway, and state-owned financing agency IDCOL (Infrastructure Development Company Limited) -- have agreed in principle to work for the project.
According to official sources, about 100 MW of solar-power generation is initially planned to generate by using the rooftops of the railway establishments across the country with investment from the private sector.
The sources at the Power Division said under the proposed arrangement, the BR will provide its space of approximately over 10 million square feet (sft) of rooftops while private sponsors install plants with financial support from IDCOL. Power Division will buy unconsumed electricity from the plants.
“An initial consensus had been there over the issue in a joint meeting on July 25 at the Railways Ministry where the Power Division made a presentation on the potential of the project,” said Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary of the Power Division and in-charge of renewable energy, told UNB.
He said German donor agency KfW, the representatives of which attended the meeting, also expressed interest to extend technical and financial support to conduct a feasibility study shortly.
Contacted, Railway Secretary Mofazzal Hossain said Bangladesh Railway has agreed with the idea of generating electricity from solar plants using rooftops.
He said a technical committee was formed at the meeting comprising representatives of the Railways Ministry and Power Division to examine the project viability.
During the meeting, official sources said, six major railway stations and offices, 17 junctions and five workshops of the railway are targeted for the project.
The office is Rail Bhaban, while the stations are Kamalapur, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, and Chittagong and junctions are in Jessore, Pabna, Abdulpur, Paradaho, Ishwardi, Bagerhat, Joydebpur, Syedpur, Bhairab, Burimari, Rohanpur, Tongi, Tangail, Gouripur, Laksham, and their adjacent offices and staff quarters.
The major workshops proposed for the solar plants are Parbatipur, Pahartoli, Ishwardi, Saidpur, and 569 small stations.
Officials said the major stations and offices have huge rooftops of 1.5 million sft while junctions and adjacent facilities have 3.45 million sft rooftop and workshops and small stations have 5.5 million sft rooftops.
Once such rooftop solar power projects are implemented, IDCOL officials said, they will annually generate 91 gig watt hours of electricity saving an amount of Tk 54 crore and they will help save about Tk 1,078 crore in 20 years.
Power Division officials said they have proposed Bangladesh Railway to implement the project under the Net Metering System (NMS) under which the railway will consume its own electricity first and then sell the extra or unconsumed one to the national grid.
In this case, they said, the railway will lease out its rooftops to private sponsors known as ESCO (energy service company) which will install the plants at their own costs with financial support from the IDCOL.
There will be a tripartite agreement among railway, IDCOL and private sponsors while railway will have a bilateral agreement with power distribution companies to sell its unconsumed electricity to the national grid.
Officials said neighbouring India has already implemented a large number of rooftop solar projects using the rooftops of its railway stations and other establishments which have been running very successfully.