'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'
Bangladesh Railway is going to set up rooftop solar plants in its stations, office buildings, junctions, workshops and staff quarters across the country as part of the 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 on the project.
According to official sources, initially, about 100 MW of solar power is planned to be generated by using the rooftops of the railway establishments across the country with investment from the private sector.
Power Division sources said under the proposed arrangement, Bangladesh Railway will provide its space of approximately over 10 million square feet of rooftops while private sponsors will install plants with financial support from IDCOL.
The Power Division will buy the 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.
He said German state-owned development bank KfW, the representatives of which attended the meeting, also expressed interest to extend technical and financial support to conduct a feasibility study on the project, 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 has been formed at the meeting comprising representatives of the Railways Ministry and Power Division to examine the project viability.
According to official sources, six major railway stations and offices, 17 junctions and five workshops of the railway were targeted for the project during the meeting.
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 other small stations.
Officials said the major stations and offices have huge rooftops spanning 1.5 million sqft, while junctions and adjacent facilities have 3.45 million sqft rooftop space.
Project to save Tk54 crore per year
IDCOL officials said that once such rooftop solar power projects are implemented, they will generate 91 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, saving Tk54 crore per year. In 20 years, savings might reach about Tk1,078 crore.
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.