The use of solar power to run irrigation pumps is not new in the country. But a latest move offers something new and different to the farmers: sell your off-season idle electricity to the national grid and earn an income, too.
Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) plans to install 2000 solar irrigation pumps under the project allowing farmers to sell their unconsumed electricity to the national grid when irrigation is no longer required.
The solar power-run pumps will replace the existing conventional diesel-run machines in 21 districts under a pilot project, said officials at the BREB.
They said the BREB’s move comes as part of the government’s long-term aim to gradually replace the existing 1.34 million diesel-run irrigation pumps with solar across the country.
In the first phase of the project, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase has recently approved four separate tender proposals of the BREB to install 1295 solar irrigation pumps at a cost of about Tk 157 crore.
“These pumps will be installed in the districts of Noagaon, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Gopalganj, Faridpur, Madaripur, Kumilla and Feni under different rural electricity cooperatives known as Palli Biduyt Samiti (PBS)”, according to a BREB document.
BREB officials claimed that under the new system, solar electricity will have a better utilization by transmitting the off-irrigation power to the national grid.
“We have calculated that farmers normally use pumps for 115-120 days of a year for irrigation, while the rest of the year the pumps remain off when solar electricity has no use”, said Shakil Ibn Sayeed, project director of the BREB.
“So, BREB will purchase this electricity from the farmers at bulk rate to ensure a better use of the unconsumed electricity”, he told UNB.