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Grameen Shakti to provide 10m people with solar energy
Bazlur Rahman back from Comilla

          Grameen Shakti (GS), involved in promoting and developing renewable energy in remote and rural areas of Bangladesh, has planned to provide 10 million people with solor energy by 2010, currently deprived of electricity.
GS Solar, a member of Grameen family, incorporated in 1996 as a not-for-profit company, has installed more than 51,000 solar home systems (SHS) at 10,200 villages in 58 districts which have brought more than 275,000 people under renewable energy. More than 1650 SHSs are being installed every month.
It has also planned to install 100,000 SHSs by 2007 with the capacity to produce 25 Mw of electricity daily which can be used to move fan, cook food, run TV, cassette player and computer, and charge mobile phone.
"GS mainly targets those areas which have no access to grid electricity. SHS are 12-volt DC stand-alone system and each SHS includes a PV module, battery-charge controller, florescent lights, wiring and outlet fixture for installation," said Dipal Chandra Barua, managing director of GS.
"The main programmes of GS include solar home system, biogas technology, wind energy, training programme, research, development and marketing of solar, wind and biogas technology, and solar powered computer training centre," added Dipal.
GS has successfully managed to construct 156 biogas plants within 2005 and plans to construct 3000 biogas plants within 2006, he said further. Bangladesh has the potential to develop four million biogas plants.
Like natural gas as Titas the biogas can be used for cooking, lighting hazak and producing electricity with generators.
Slurry produced from biogas plant is a high quality organic manure which safeguards materials like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and increases its standard as a fertiliser and ensures higher agricultural production.
While visiting Nayergao in Daoodkandi Thana of Comilla district this correspondent has found 14 shops (among around 20 shops) using GS-sponsored renewable energy for TV, fan, light and mobile fan.
Villagers of the same area are now enjoying this facility. It is helping them in many ways, said local people who expressed their hope that they would continue using GS energy even after getting dectricity from Palli Bidyut Samiti.
"Instead of generator-produced light I feel more comfort in using GS as it saves money. In GS system I can work even after 11 pm as two lights may last eight hours everyday but generator stops supply at 8 pm. I have become the owner of a GS unit of energy in the meantime, which I may use for more 25 years free," said Chan Mia, owner of a workshop at Daudkandi.
Users can choose any four methods to purchase the solar home system. First, the customer has to pay 15 per cent of the total price as down payment and the remaining 85 per cent may be paid in monthly installments within 36 months with 12 per cent service service.
The second mode stipulates that a customer has to pay 25 per cent as down payment and remaining 75 per cent in 24 installments with eight per cent service charge.
The third option is that the client may pay 15 per cent of total cost as down payment and remaining 85 per cent plus 10 service charge may be paid by 36 accounts payee cheques in advance.
The fourth and last option is to purchase the solar home system at cost at four per cent discout.
GS has introduced a micro utility model in order to reach the poor by allowing a group of people to share the cost and benefit of owning a SHS through rent and leasing.
In 2002, GS won the "Energy Globe Award 2002" from Austria, and in 2003 the "European Solar Prize 2003" from Germany. It achieved the "Best Theme Award 2003" from USAID and "Solar Prize 2004" from IDCOL Bangladesh.
Besides, GS has received the "Best Organisation Award 2005" from Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
When asked Dipal said around 12 NGOs including BRAC are involved in producing renewable energy. More organisations can be engaged in this industry to remove energy crisis of the country, he added.


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