Largest Solar Project in Mongla set to begin operations 25 December

Originally posted in The Business Standard on 22 December 2021

Orion Group has built the plant on a 350-acre site, originally developed for a coal power project

The country’s largest solar park in Mongla is all set to begin supplying 134.3 megawatts peak (solar power measuring unit) of electricity to the national grid from 25 December.

Energon Renewables, a subsidiary of the industrial conglomerate Orion Group, has built the plant on a 350-acre site that had originally been developed for a coal power project in 2014.

The Orion Group shelved the coal project and struck a deal with the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) in February 2019 on building the solar park.

The solar plant is a milestone in Bangladesh’s efforts to reduce emissions as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the COP26 announced a “target of generating 40% of our energy from renewable sources by 2041”.

The largest solar plant in the country, built on a 350-acre site. Photo: Courtesy

The $196 million green power plant project stands in striking contrast to the Rampal coal power plant, located just nearby in Bagerhat district.

“The project is undergoing a trial run and is set to start its commercial operations next week,” said Ahmed Jahir Khan, director of Renewable Energy, Research and Development Directorate at the BPDB.

The Power Development Board will purchase electricity from this solar plant for 20 years under a “no electricity, no payment” term. A kilowatt-hour of electricity will cost ¢13.8.

A bird’s eye view shows the largest solar plant in the country, built on a 350-acre site. The plant will begin to supply electricity from 25 December. The photo was taken from Borodurgapur village of Mongla upazila in Bagerhat recently. Photo: Courtesy

“We developed the project against many odds,” said Salman Obaidul Karim, managing director of Orion Group.

“We had to deal with all the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We also had to change our [solar solutions] supplier. And then there was the huge container congestion that created a global supply chain chaos,” he added.

Salman Obaidul Karim pointed out that the project was a good way to go forward in the post-COP26 world, which aimed at a drastic reduction of carbon emissions by all nations of the world.

“We are very proud that the commercial operation date of this project coincides with our 50th year as an independent nation in the month of victory,” he noted.

The Chinese manufacturer Longi Solar has provided the photovoltaics (PV) while Sungrow Power Supply Co Ltd supplied its central inverter solutions. ABB Singapore is the Engineering Procurement Contractor of the project and Mahindra Susten Pvt Ltd worked as an Owner’s Engineer and Project Management Consultancy.

The project has been financed by a combination of local and foreign lenders. This green project will contribute to reducing around 1,80,000 tonnes of CO2 emission a year.

Energon uses energy-efficient Mono Perc cells to capture solar rays and convert them to power, which will then be supplied as Alternating Current electricity to the main grid in Mongla, some 13km away from the plant. Mono Perc cells have the highest efficiency in generating power among the four types of solar cells available in the market.

With this, the share of renewable energy in Bangladesh’s total power generation capacity reaches 907.24MW, whereas the total generation capacity is above 25,000MW.

Under the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan, Bangladesh intends to obtain 30% of energy from renewable sources by 2030 and this project is a significant initiative in achieving the government’s goal of diversifying the sustainable energy infrastructure of the country.

Bagerhat is now home to Bangladesh’s largest solar PV plant after overtaking the 73MW Mymensingh solar power facility. It is connected to the 132/33-kV Mongla PGCB Grid Substation through a newly-built 9km transmission line.

Orion Group has five fuel-based power plants with a capacity to generate 511MW of electricity.