Providing off-grid energy solutions at scale in rural Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a densely populated country of around 160 million people, with 75 percent of the population living in rural areas and approximately 32 percent living below the national poverty line. In spite of its record GDP growth in recent years, access to affordable and reliable energy remains limited due to slow grid expansion, leaving the rural poor most vulnerable to the effects of energy poverty.
With an overall electrification rate of around 70 percent, Bangladesh is one of the most energy-starved countries in the world. Even in areas with access to grid electricity, power outages are common and last up to 9 hours per day on average, due to Bangladesh’s inadequate power generation capacity. The country’s energy supply is further threatened by the depletion of its offshore natural gas basins, which it relies upon to generate energy through its gas-based power plants.
With the Solar Nano Grid Rural Electrification project, InfraCo Asia aims to implement up to 2,000 solar nano grid systems (of 3kW each) across select locations in the country, delivering affordable and reliable energy to the rural poor in particular, through a digital, pre-paid metering system.
Each nano grid is capable of serving around 50 households within a 0.5-1.5 kilometre radius, supplying a 50-watt load to each household – enough to power four lights, one fan and an LED television screen.
The solar nano grid system is a concept tested and validated by local partner Solaric Bangladesh, which has installed and currently operate 28 nano grid systems. These systems have been deployed in 28 locations across Bangladesh, where it has proven commercially unviable to set up a mini grid and power transmission lines. Solaric Bangladesh has extensive experience in the implementation of solar nano grid technology, including the engineering, manufacturing, integration and installation of solar home systems.
Upon completion, the project is expected to serve over a 100,000 households and small businesses, or 450,000 people in Bangladesh. In developing the Solar Nano Grid Rural Electrification project, InfraCo Asia also aims to demonstrate the feasibility and bankability of solar nano grid projects, paving the way for greater private sector investment in similar rural electrification models throughout Bangladesh and the South Asia region.