Solar module makers seek special fund to rebound

Originally posted in The Financial Express on 02 April 2022

Local solar module producers seek a special fund like the one introduced in neighbouring India with the intent to boost the Covid-hit sector, sources say.

Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh (SMAB) has recently requested the power, energy and mineral resources ministry for steps to this end.

Currently, the country has nine solar module-making firms with an aggregate production capacity of more than 100 megawatts, according to a SMAB letter.

The entrepreneurs in the sector suffered financially during the pandemic period, it reads.

Many firms were forced to shut their factories, thus posing a potential threat to investment. The sector is a new face of economic development. It is thus essential to keep it afloat in order to meet the domestic electricity demand, the letter claims.

The government has taken steps to find alternative energy sources and set a target to meet around 40 per cent from renewable sources.

The local solar module makers are interested in achieving the goal if they get the required policy as well as financial support from the government.

India has introduced a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to protect the home module producers.

Malaysia has waived a 10-per cent sales tax on such module production.

China also allocated $214 million from giving protection to solar PV producers in 2020.

Sector insiders thus suggest that Bangladesh too keep a special allocation to help the domestic solar module manufacturing flourish.

“We have received a letter from the SMAB and are now scrutinising the issue,” says a ministry official.