Bangladesh

Overview

Renewable World began implementing projects in Bangladesh in 2015 as part of a wider South Asia strategy, in partnership with the International Development Enterprises (iDE).

Impact

  • 2 solar grids in 2 communities in 2 districts,
  • 26 energy connections,
  • Household energy access for 167 people.

Need

In the context of multidimensional poverty (deprivation of more than one dimension, such as health, education and living standards), South Asia on the whole has seen a slight decline. Statistics such as these often stand as a step in the right direction towards the reduction of poverty. However, when we take a closer look at the national realities, 40% of Bangladesh’s population is still considered multidimensionally poor. The Human Development Index (HDI) 2018 ranks Bangladesh as 136th out of 189 countries for “leading a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and enjoying a decent standard of living” (UNDP, 2018). The HDI’s ‘average achievements’ benchmark highlights the deficiencies that are present in Bangladesh’s poverty-stricken communities; poor quality of health, education and infrastructure. The situation is further worsened by the challenging Bangladesh landscape, which makes it prone to floods, cyclones, and earthquakes.

For those in countries that rank high in the HDI, commute time is often a central consideration when deciding on a new job; How long will it take to get to work? What’s traffic congestion like? How long will it take to get home? And that’s with the guarantee of a pay-check at the end of the month. In rural Bangladesh, the economy, and the very survival of communities, relies on small-scale agriculture and pollutive cooking processes. It can often take women and girls up to four hours a day just to collect the amount of water necessary for their homes. Climate change also poses a new and profound risk to the foundations of these communities. Traditional crops are suffering under inconsistent rainfall and extreme flooding, which in turn lead to severe food and income insecurity. There is no guaranteed pay-check at the end of the month for these communities.

Our Action

As part of the joint project with iDE “Power Aquaculture – Innovating Clean Energy Development for Off-Grid Hatcheries and Communities in Bangladesh”, Renewable World supported the iDE in implementing a market-based anti-poverty program under our mandate of “tackling poverty through renewable energy”.

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.

As the pilot project, Renewable World, iDE and Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd. (RREL) tested cost-effective Clean Energy Solutions (CES) for two fish hatcheries and the surrounding communities in the Ganges delta. Through the installation of two solar microgrids with mobile based metering and payment system, the project provided power for water pumping and lighting for the fish hatcheries. In turn, this subsidised the installation of 26 energy connections which enhanced the productivity of small business, reduced energy costs, and increased household access to energy for 167 people in the villages.

Members of a local Bangladeshi community

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

Notably, 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 Clean Energy Solution (CES) are 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 until approximately 2021 and sell the electricity generated to the hatchery and nearby households. When the initial 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 allows 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.

Technical Installation

Through a thorough feasibility study, two fish hatcheries were 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), entered joint venture agreements with Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd., and contributed towards the capital cost of the solar energy installation.

Technical designs were completed in consultation with the fish hatchery owner(s), 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. The technical installation at Bhola Monosex Tilapia Hatchery was completed in March 2017, and the energy system was engaged 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. Each household connected had a meter installed, to measure the energy consumption, and training was provided on the mobile payment system.

Construction of the solar energy system in Bhola Sadar

The technical installation at Abdullah Motsho Hatchery was completed by May 2017. The solar micro-grid designed has a capacity of 6kW with the energy usage split between the hatchery and the community, similar to the Bhola Sadar hatchery.

Civil infrastructure construction at Rangabali

Each solar energy system has the capacity to connect 100 households, and are able to use on average 5 hours of light after dark from 3 LED bulbs, 1 fan, and a mobile phone charger. The hub provides 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 geo-tagged all households in the communities and conducted household interviews. This data will help to provide accurate information on the existing energy use within the community and energy connections to the hub.

Community focus group discussion with women from Bhola Sadar

Community focus group discussion with women from Bhola Sadar

Funders and Partnerships

Powering Aquaculture: Renewable Microgrids for Off-Grid Fish Hatcheries and Surrounding Communities was 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 Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Duke Energy, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as part of Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development.

Next Steps

By developing bold partnerships, particularly with companies and financial institutions, we will utilise community contributions through affordable finance and enable enterprises to become equity stakeholders. The result will be less reliance on grants and subsidies, bringing community-centred renewable technology to even more people that truly need it.

Click here to read more about our work in our 10 Year Impact Report: 2008-2018.