Powering Aquaculture and Communities in Bangladesh

March 29, 2017

Powering Aquaculture: The Project

An estimated 12 million people in Bangladesh currently rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods. Fish hatcheries, who sell fish on to households and other businesses, require constant running water. Most fish hatcheries and their surrounding communities currently rely extensively on diesel and kerosene to provide the electricity needed to pump water and provide lighting. The use of kerosene and diesel, in addition to being costly, pollutes the environment and threatens the food chain and human health.

In a pilot project, Powering Aquaculture, Renewable World in partnership with iDE and Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd. (RREL) is testing cost-effective, Clean Energy Solutions (CES) for two fish hatcheries and the surrounding communities in the Ganges delta. Through the installation of solar microgrids with mobile based metering and payment system, this project is expected to provide power for water pumping and lighting for the fish hatchery, as well as domestic lighting for up to 100 surrounding homes in each community.

The community surrounding the fish hatchery will be able to buy energy from the fish hatchery, removing polluting flues from their homes
The community surrounding the fish hatchery will be able to buy energy from the fish hatchery, removing polluting flues from their homes

This project is testing an innovative business model around the funding and ownership of the energy system. It will ensure the hatcheries and surrounding households can afford the technical clean energy solution, by bringing private sector investment that would otherwise not be attracted to renewable grid development. The proposed Clean Energy Solution (CES) will be co-owned by the fish hatcheries and a private sector company (Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd.) through a joint venture business ownership model. Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd., will operate the solar microgrid system for 6 years and sell the electricity generated to the hatchery and nearby households. After 6 years, when the investment has been recouped, the ownership of the energy system will move to the hatchery, who will generate an income by continuing to sell electricity to the connected households. The mobile metering and billing system will allow users to pay for their electricity using mobile money, either pre- or post-usage, in an easy, transparent manner.

Access to solar energy is expected to replace diesel and kerosene use within the hatcheries and communities, reducing energy costs, increasing productivity, and improving the health of all involved.

Project progress

Through a thorough feasibility study, two fish hatcheries have been identified as both willing and suitable to take part in this project, as well as being located in a community that is interested in benefiting from access to solar energy. Bhola Monosex Tilapia Hatchery (Bhola Sadar) and Abdullah Motsho Hatchery (Rangabali), have entered joint venture agreements with Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd., and have contributed towards the capital cost of the solar energy installation.

Following the technical design phase of the project, we are now in the process of technical installation. Technical designs have been completed in consultation with the fish hatchery owner, the private investor, and community as a whole, taking into account the technical and financial viability of the energy system, as well as the consumers’ desires and preferences.

Technical Installation

The technical installation at Bhola Monosex Tilapia Hatchery was completed in March 2017, with the energy system being switched on on the 29th of March 2017. The solar microgrid designed has a capacity of 7.8kW, with the energy usage being split between the hatchery and the community. Household energy connections will now begin to be installed with 70 households expected to connect in the first year. Two focus group discussions, (female only and one male only) have been held with community members. Each household connected will be installed with a meter to measure the energy consumption and training will be provided on the mobile payment system.

Construction of the solar energy system in Bhola Sadar
Construction of the solar energy system in Bhola Sadar

The technical installation at Abdullah Motsho Hatchery is currently underway and will be completed by April 2017. The solar micro-grid designed has a capacity of 6kW with the energy usage split between the hatchery and the community. At present 40 households are expected to connect in the first year.

Each solar energy system will have the capacity to connect 100 households, who will be able to use on average 5 hours of light after dark from 3 LED bulbs, 1 fan and a mobile phone charger. The hub will also provide energy capacity for additional water pumping in the communities, allowing households to irrigate land for agriculture or pump water for domestic fish ponds.  As part of the project, the team have been geo-tagging all households in the communities and conducting household interviews. This data will help to provide accurate information on the existing energy use within the community and energy connections to the hub.

Powering Aquaculture: Renewable Microgrids for Off-Grid Fish Hatcheries and Surrounding Communities is supported, and partly-funded, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the German Federal Ministry for Eco-nomic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Duke Energy, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as part of Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development.