Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
Solar photovoltaic (PV) uses solar cells to capture energy from sunlight and converts it to electricity by photovoltaic effect through assembling solar cells. Transmitted through solar modules and solar panels, sunlight is easily converted to solar power that can be supplied to off-grid areas as alternative to power solutions in remote and dispersed communities.
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Solar photovoltaic (PV) project is a predominant technology that consists of 10-100 Wp of solar PV panel that attracts solar radiations through daylight and stores the energy in the automobile battery, which is then transmitted through cabling and low-wattage Dc lamps (Energy and Mining Sector Board, 2007).
Practical application of photovoltaic cells producing electricity from sunlight is applied by connecting a series of modules, interconnected in parallels or series creating an array of an additive voltage.
Photons in sunlight hit solar panels and absorbed by silicon (semiconducting materials) (Shive, 1959). Electrons being charged are knocked loose from their atoms, allowing them to flow through the silicon in a single direction to produce electricity (silicon) (Lorenzo et al. , 1994, p.78; Smee, 1849).
Arrays of solar cells are convert the solar energy into usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity which could be applied to development activities such as water pumping, small cottage industry, poultry rearing, fish farming among others (Lorenzo et al, 1994, p.78; Anderson 2001).
Science and technology have defined desired service outcomes for end-users. Use of solar photovoltaic technology has amplified and transformed the rural poor population who can not afford electricity (Wolf, 1976). It requires active participation of community members, who are the end-users beneficiaries and the government, should actively participate to foresee the project completion.
This essay demonstrates how technology sector, for this instance, Solar photovoltaic (PV), a solar energy that is currently processed by World Bank in Bangladesh has incredibly transformed the living standards of the rural poor population.
Data obtained for this analysis is culmination research efforts gathered between World Bank projects and extensive assessment performed by a group of industry practitioners in Bangladesh in pursue of project management and Information technology programs.
Developing countries have over the years been striving to provide energy solutions to the poor marginalized areas. Despite many projects that have been implemented for years, more than 1.5 billion people in developing countries, mostly in the Sub- Saharan African region and South Asia remain without access to electricity services today.
In this regard, World Bank continues to implement projects to meet Bangladesh lightening and other basic energy needs since majority of the households in the rural areas depend on expensive fuel-based energy power such as kerosene, which are indeed inefficient and polluting.
World Bank’s project uses renewable energy-based technologies ranging from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to micro hydropower to off-grid areas as alternative to power solutions in remote and dispersed communities (Lorenzo, 1994).
This projected has also been accelerated due to the recent increment of fuel prices. Among the financiers, World Bank is the leading sponsor of the off-grid electrification benefiting more than 1 million households, including both small and medium-size enterprises.
Solar Thermal Power Plant in Bangladesh enabled sustainment of community development activities such as water pumping, small cottage industry, poultry rearing, fish farming, among others.
The study starts by mentioning impacts of solar photovoltaic (PV) on Bangladesh society, problems inherent within the project application of solar photovoltaic (PV) in Bangladesh rural development, national subsidiaries and the government working to meet the basic energy needs. The analysis did, however, conclude that PV improved living standards and the livelihood of the rural poor population.
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This, therefore, brings us to the conclusion that technology is indeed a practice that requires testing regimes to arrive at best practices. In this regard, understanding both internal and external processes rather than relying on the prescribed best practices within information technology industry is very important.
Overview of Bangladesh Community
Many rural communities in Bangladesh require energy solutions to sustain their economic activities. Many of their projects are usually constrained by lack of modern supply of energy and jeopardized their ability to live above poverty levels. Economic activities related to water pumping, small cottage industry, poultry rearing, fish farming, among others are very important in sustaining community development.
Many of these projects require small amount of power as low as 100w to 3kW, which could be provided by PV. In this case, the government should initiate and enhance productive activities for long-term project sustainability.
This brought us to the conclusion that the major ingredients to providing off-grid require technical assistance and adequate financing from the government, private subsidiaries and international donors.
Therefore the costs of PV built to serve the off-grid community need to be justified in its productive loads especially in daytime when the sunshine is out enough to supply nighttime household loads, otherwise the wall project would not be cost effective (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.15).
Bangladeshi government should ensure that regulatory requirements designed for off-grid markets are appropriate, devise reporting and service quality standards in rural areas and set lower costs that can be redistributed over an extended period (Reiche et al. , 2006).
For PV services, for instance, Reiche et al. (2006) argues that the only regulatory body that would foresee the completion of the project would be the government that provides subsidies for system purchase and installation.
Reiche and his colleagues (2006) add that regulatory actions involve accreditation of participating companies, settings and enforcing standards (preferably adopting internationally accepted standards), verification of installation, and random monitoring of system performance-actions that World Bank-supported projects usually require of counterpart government agencies (p.7).
Impacts of solar photovoltaic (PV) on Bangladesh society
Solar photovoltaic (PV) and SHS technical options enhance affordability and provide smaller, lower-power solar systems that offer lower quantity of service without compromising its quality (Cabraal et al., 1996). For example, Cabraal and his colleagues (1996) analysis demonstrate that a solar panel costing $ 50 to $75 would provide 3-4hours of lighting on a daily basis.
Also, the SHS costing $ 600 can operate up to 3-4 hours of lighting and radio daily. LED technology advances are also cost-efficient and can also be adopted into the most marginalized and retail infrastructure. Overall, adequate attention to SHS products and services are needed lead to reduced costs and replacements less expensive (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.19).
World Bank investment projects have over the years made impressive gains in improving electricity access, specifically in developing countries. It’s estimated that majority of Bangladesh population both in rural and marginalized areas has no access to electricity. Poor households here are defined as people living in off-grid areas with low-income levels.
Government programs in Bangladesh should, in this case, prioritize allocation of scarce resources. This is because unprivileged populations are found to be concentrated in the rural communities. However, the costs required to electrify these places vary significantly.
Marginal areas have been without electricity for some time since private organizations are unwilling to connect customers because if the inherent high costs installation and with lower tariffs. In reality, private sectors prefer to concentrate on grid intensification due to lower cost per connection and easier to implement.
Government projects are rarely off-grid decisions and its time they supported energy initiatives that would stimulate the growth of micro-enterprises that would benefit the economy. For these reasons, some off-grid projects have been neglected hence the need for World Bank sponsorship. The spatial-analysis of power line being plotted in Bangladesh is one of such example (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.4).
Rural renewable electrification programs such as solar photovoltaic (PV) are increasingly becoming popular in developing countries as a means of providing alternative energy sources to rural poor population. PV technology varies significantly in design and implementation, as well as its degree of success.
Lorenzo and his colleagues (1994) argue that sustainability of these programs are widely successful with collective participation from the local government, donor funding and the community. Solar photovoltaic tends to be a technical demonstration project and relies totally on funding from donor organizations and local governments.
In this regard, World Bank projects aimed at mainstreaming sustainable development principles into development aspects, is projected as a primary donor for community sustainment. It mobilizes efforts from community, the government and private-sectors to improve coordination among environmental institutions both internationally and locally.
World Bank projects have over the years been accredited with increasing the capacity of environmental issues and awareness of community on environmental issues by encouraging their active participation to monitor environmental quality.
According to Yongxoue et al. (2003), World Bank’s main objective is to “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources” (p.10).
It’s quite clear that access to energy solutions would incredibly improve Bangladesh’s welfare. According to Cabraal et al. (2008) research, there are about 260 million rural households without access to electricity.
It is evidenced that majority of these households reside in either dispersed or small villages far form the city centers. World Bank is, therefore, trying to bridge this gap by implementing projects that provide electricity to such neglected areas using technology options approaches such as solar photovoltaic that have attained commercial maturity over the past 15-20 years.
Based on practical knowledge gathered from various literature and international experience accumulated through the past and on going World Bank operations, World Bank’s unique projects offer basic design principles of project management and sound practices and prescribe solutions for success (Cabraal et al. , 2008).
Solar photovoltaic projects aimed at improving lives and livelihood opportunities have helped those who can not afford personal house connections. From the perspective of data gathered from various literature, such technological applications increase the economic attractiveness of the community.
Issues surrounding solar photovoltaic (PV)
It’s evidenced that a station with 2kw capacity charged battery can serve up to 50 households. The only disadvantage is that the solar-powered batteries can only serve people living near the station since the battery must be transported to and from the charging station once a week.
On the other hand, however, Barkat (2003) argues that “in some projects, quality systems were installed without providing for longer-term maintenance, which harmed the reputation of the project and technology” (p.6). Also, lack of donor funding and the inability to reach the off-grid areas due to poor infrastructure has always been a major obstacle in realizing rural solar electrification objectives.
Bangladesh management team, on the other hand, lacked awareness in decision-making level. The country had not prioritized solar development plan and poor coordination among line agencies at local levels to foresee the project completion were evident.
There were so many undergoing projects, but locals lacked understanding of the project activities and how it would benefit them. Locals assumed that the project only targeted long term impacts, which made them less motivated and more concerned about short term direct impacts.
This brought us to the conclusion that complex issues in developing countries require more practical solutions to solve the problem in the community in a short-term basis.
Even though, solar energy projects have been stated as one of the Bangladesh’s national development plan priority, in fact, it’s shocking to realize that the country has given the project less priority since its implementation (Yongxoue et al. , 2003, p.3). Sibanda and Mahbub (2003) states that.
World Bank acted as an administrator for the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) with grants of a total of $8.3 million to sponsor part of the costs for installation of Solar Home Systems (PV) and renewable energy mini-grids for poor households located in Bangladesh rural areas (p.2).
The projects benefited more than 14,000 households and over 5000 small to medium enterprises. Some of the projects included irrigation pumps, poultry farms and as well as timber mills in the rural areas.
The ongoing project is expected to enable majority of poor rural population and dispersed areas have access to affordable energy through the PV and mini-grid projects. Zafrul Islam as quoted in Sibanda and Mahbub (2003) states that the GPOBA projects will support the Government of Bangladesh’s goal to ensure that the entire country has access to electricity by 2021.
80% of Bangladesh’s population live in rural areas and are also the group most affected by a lack of sufficient electricity generation. These projects will help 140,000 more households gain access to affordable electricity (p.1).
Sibanda and Mahbub (2003) continue that the proposed PV project will reduce PV installation costs benefiting off-grid areas. Mr. Islam Sharrif as quoted in Sibanda and Mahbub (2003) adds that our mission at IDCOL is to encourage private sector investment in energy and infrastructure projects,” said Mr. Islam Sharif, CEO of IDCOL.
The output-based aid approach has an impressive track record to date because it helps low-income households gain access to electricity and makes it attractive for the private sector to offer services to the poor (p.2).
In his statement Mr. Islam Sharrif concluded that the amount paid by GPOBA was seen as an incentive for business in the country to offer services to the poor people and the World Bank out-put based approach will ensure that payments made go directly to the qualifying household access to PV installation (Sibanda and Mahbub, 2003, p.2).
Since its establishment in 2003, GPOBA has sponsored various projects, including education, infrastructure and health designed to create incentives for efficiency and long-term development projects.
Bangladeshi government should play an active role by funding and inviting proposals from private sectors, rural energy fund and support such investments on qualifying bidders. In either case, the governments sound practice to subsidize a portion of the capital costs while the community and private sectors balances the investment costs and full cost of the operation and maintenance.
The third approach calls for active participation of government-contracted projects or public utilities operating in marginalized areas. Here, the government takes full charge by regulating tariffs, which is an equivalent to the lifeline tariff of rural grid customers. In other words, utility operator is provided a subsidy from a public source as part of capital operations and maintenance costs.
This model is also evident in the Philippines where the government funds its micro-operation projects. For Bangladesh case, World Bank project centered on off-grid SHS has enabled rural electrification. With regard to World Bank projects, the dealer aspect often incorporates micro-finance assistance, which deals with the initial high upfront costs (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.20).
In this case, mobilization of both government and sponsoring agencies is required since off-grid electrification is difficult to implement. Persistence and efforts from the government in support of World Bank projects are very important in ensuring completion of the projects. Government commitment to revive subsidiary slack when external financing ends to ensure the completion of the project is also required.
After extensive research, I realized that long-term sustainability of the project will depend on many factors either than just technology. First of all, Cabraal and his colleagues (2008) argue that Bangladesh will require effective prioritization and adequate planning to ensure implementation of technological solutions, infrastructure and financial are provided for long-term purposes.
Drawing on World Bank’s experience in design and implementing off-grid electrification projects, rural electrification solar projects guidance and insights into fundamental design principles for sustainability and sound practices for effective decision-making in Bangladesh will an effective solution (Cabraal et al. , 2008).
Secondly, active participation of government-contracted projects or public utilities operating in marginalized areas. World Bank projects should incorporate micro-finance assistance to deal with the initial high upfront costs.
It has often been argued that reduced capital costs subsequently improve affordability of capital-intensive off-grid technologies. Some countries oppose the off-grid technologies, encouraging further consumption of high fuel.
The implementation of solar PV have simplified energy solutions and enabled Bangladesh to build long-term relationship with its donors and subsidiaries hence reducing the share of costs attributed to management and overhead costs (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.20).
To ensure the likelihood of sustainability of the projects, Cabraal and his colleagues (2008) argue that Bangladesh government should play a role of off-grid options by simplifying regulations, appointing competent and dedicated project management staff to foresee the completion of the project.
Since the project is technology-driven, the project should include cost-effective analysis to determine the least-cost solutions and our technology choice will be based practical considerations. Deliverance mechanisms and consumer service for off-grid projects specifically rely on private sector participation in line with local realities, which enable access to quality and affordable products and services in the long-term.
In order to increase affordability, Sibanda and Mahbub (2003) argue that off-grid electrification project in the rural Bangladesh must include subsidiaries, low-cost energy options like PV for this instance, consumer financing and finally polices and business practice. Role of subsidiaries, in this case, would be to foresee the completion of grid-based rural electrification to off-grid areas that have poor and dispersed population.
It has also been argued that technologies for decentralized service have the ability to configure individual units that have higher investment costs to low fuel and operating costs compared to fuel-based supply systems.
In some cases, the resulting energy costs may be higher that what a potential customer is willing to pay and subsidiaries in this case help off-grid consumers afford the upfront costs of access (Sibanda and Mahbub, 2003, p.17).
Subsidiaries provided by PV in World Bank projects in Bangladesh reflects wide variations of systems costs, government attitudes towards subsidiary support and willingness to pay levels. For example, the PV subsidiary projects known as the RERED include PV system size of 20-70 WP with approximately 12 % cost in subsidiary range. Subsidiary financing can be gained from micro-financial institutions, banks and leasing companies.
Such arrangements can increase affordability by spreading first costs over several years. Therefore strong partnership between microfinance institutions and energy companies would facilitate fast off-grid lending programs (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.19).
Implications on Education
The main objective of PV electrification is to ensure potential productive applications are likely to be fruitful once the PV is built. For effective implementation, early identification of local participant for the PV project, assisting individuals in developing business plan and identifying financial modalities.
Sometimes over optimisms evaluation of potential productive application may be impractical to implement since they do not indicate significant potential for utilization. Institutional and community application are also important to ensuring off-grid electrification come to its full potential. For example, community centers around at the projects areas such as hospitals and schools can voluntary give assistance by financing the projects.
In a business model perspective, World Bank or donor-funded institutions that have offered critical mass of assistance for PV market packages are offered bidding where the highest bidder is given the right to sell the PV to local households at subsidized rates and even a contract to install the PV systems to selected institutions.
An important feature of this model is that the project enables long term maintenance and services that meet specific service standards (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.16).
Bangladesh government should be actively involved in decision making, planning and implementation of the program and in selection of the program objectives. Raising community awareness by offering education on reasons to which the programs are being implemented, the actual benefits of the program and causes of any factors that contribute to their apparent success or lack of success should be highly prioritized.
Comprehensive set of success criteria and a road map followed by program planners and implementers should be provided to ensure success of the PV program. Since off-grid projects that rely on private sector participation, Bangladeshi government should employ simplest technological solutions that commensurate with local realities and support donor initiatives to foresee the project success.
Lack of education threatens the progress achieved by any development and jeopardizes the main objective of community development. Community members who are not acculturated to technology use must be provided with adequate training and encouraged to participate in development initiatives with the aim of increasing awareness.
Community involvement in development initiatives should be incorporated right from the planning phase of development projects, to ensure that their positive impacts can be sustained in the long term. With this regard, Information on ongoing operations, maintenance and replacement costs, alongside national recycling programs must be made and education arrangements made to ensure safe disposal of hazardous waste.
Subsidiaries for off-grid populations are often justified on social equity grounds, what Barnes and Halpern (2000) defines as their ability to help rural dwellers to attain a level of parity by extending infrastructure costs and lifelines tariffs.
In market imperfection aspect, Barnes and Halpern (2000) states that “lack of adequate information regarding specific opportunities, true cost of service and unavailable long-term financing often slow down the already economic off-grid projects or those that are close to completion” (p.5).
Therefore appropriate designed subsidiaries for off-grid electrification enables the completion of physical interventions to occur by providing the otherwise uninterested investors with financial incentives and support.
Barnes and Halpern (2000) add that project management mechanisms that mostly target the economic projects of the needy societies are usually effective if they incorporate implementation program that works. For example, it’s considered more effective to subsidize the upfront costs to consumers or business costs in dispersed areas than operating costs (Cabraal et al. , 2008, p.18).
Off-grid projects that rely on private sector participation should employ simplest delivery mechanisms that commensurate with local realities. Here, Bangladeshi government should seek assistance from service providers, assess risks involved, provide technical assistance and provide technical assistance where appropriate.
Before project implementation, choice of technologies must be tested for practical considerations like availability of adequate resources, ease of operations and maintenance and access to spare parts. Also, data should be collected across various sectors that would be willing to use the services which would be factored into technology selection process.
For PV, for example, the government should cooperate with World Bank in providing data on energy consumption and income levels’ while the choice on appropriate technologies should be left to service providers with investment parameters to consider. The conception and implementation of the PV project must always be consistence with the overall rural lighting plan for Bangladeshi.
In this regard, the project should steer clear of ad-hoc factors that may kill the come to completion. Within early its early assessment phase, the Bangladeshi government should pay highest priority to raising community awareness, involve and support donor initiatives to foresee the project success.
Promotion programs and community meeting alongside national recycling programs must be made and education arrangements to ensure safe disposal of hazardous waste.
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