Bangladesh's solar-sharing startup aims to reduce electricity waste

Kaaka, 2 July (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Startup Thursday won the International Award for Climate Change Innovation for helping rural Bangladeshi owners of domestic solar power systems to trade surplus electricity with their neighbors.

Founded in 2014, SOLSHR aims to waste more than a billion dollars of energy each year when the home battery storage system connected to solar panels reaches capacity and does not generate much solar power, its officials said.

Bangladesh is one of the world's leaders in solar home systems for off-grid communities and now has over 5 million systems.

"We have created a device that can share surplus energy and help people make money for it," said Salma Islam, project manager at KaSaka-based Soulier.

Using an electronic unit installed along with their solar system, owners can transfer excess energy to local microgrid "microgrid" created with other SOL share users, requiring more energy to buy and cut waste.

"If someone puts the device in automod, it will automatically start selling power, once it's (battery) is full," Islam said.

Homes that can't afford solar panels can buy electricity through the system, which won an award for innovation in energy access from Ashden, a British charity that scales climate-smart energy solutions on Thursday.

The Bangladesh government, which aims to increase renewable energy consumption by 10% by next year, has seen SLSHR equipment as a useful part of the push.

"We welcome this," said Mohammed Alauddin, Chairman of Bangladesh's Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority.

He said the country is looking for many ways to improve solar power, from adding more roof panels to installing solar panels that float on water sources.

However, Bangladesh plans to build new coal-fired power plants over the next two decades, which could dramatically increase the dependence on high-polluting coal, according to environmental groups.

The country's main source of energy is natural gas, but its reserves are declining, its government said.

Cheap solar

Sole Share officials said they had set up 27 "microgrids" across Bangladesh where their equipment was installed. Of his nearly 3,000 customers - most of them farmers - he earns less than $ 5 a day.

Previously, many consumers who could not afford a basic solar home system relied on pollution and expensive fuels such as kerosene or diesel generators, the company said.

According to Ashden, Solshare has helped reduce the use of such fuels by expanding the reach of electricity.

Harriet Lamb said, "SolarShekhar is a real pioneer. He is building a neighboring power network. His peer-to-peer solar grid system means that solar energy is not wasted. CEO of Ashden

The coronavirus virus epidemic forced thousands of Bangladeshis to return from their cities to their villages, resulting in some power consumption in SOLshare's microgrid.

According to Islam, the company has decided to temporarily eliminate the small surcharge imposed on electricity vendors to ease the burden on hard-hit families.

She said that in addition to some charitable funds, the company has also provided medical packages to rural communities and plans to provide sewing machines to garment workers who have lost their jobs in the city.

The company is in talks with the United Nations Refugee Agency to build such microgrids in the world's largest refugee colony in Cox's Bazar, home to more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar.

At least 100,000 Bangladeshis are expected to grow their business to share solar power over the next five years, Soul Share officials said.

Its purpose is to survive "using existing and existing resources."

One of the beneficiaries of the technology was 40-year-old Bimal Krishna Das, who succeeded in his pharmacy business in the Coronavirus pandemic in Barisal, 250 km from Kaaka.

By selling electricity, he was able to raise the extra money he needed.

"Having some extra money in your pocket during this crisis can be a relief," he said.

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