The Bangladeshi clean energy company Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) has won the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) award in the “Multilateral/International Organisation” category for its solar mini-grids project.
The award has been given for the project implemented in Monpura Island by IDCOL in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
IDCOL is the first organisation from Bangladesh to receive this prestigious award.
As the Covid-19 crisis and Cyclone Amphan’s aftermath continue to lay bare the pressures that many people face across Bangladesh, this award is a timely recognition that clean energy projects can help these communities build resilience, UNDP said in a statement today.
IDCOL was selected for implementing solar mini-grid projects in Bangladesh through the development of a sustainable business model which ensures productive access to electricity for the population living in off-grid areas, while facilitating local industries by creating jobs and supporting local businesses.
“We are delighted that ARE recognised IDCOL’s mini-grids project as a key to expanding energy access in Bangladesh and elsewhere too,” said UNDP Bangladesh Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee.
The people I meet who service our turbines are special: They’re proud of what they do, and they take their jobs very seriously. It’s not an easy environment to work in. When you’ve experienced standing on the top of an 80m high turbine, swaying in the wind like a ship at sea, you really respect what they do. It takes a cool head and a lot of courage.
“As we have seen on the ground, innovative solar mini-grids projects are relatively easy to install, operate and maintain, and bring multiple benefits to local communities. The Monpura Island project is a great showcase for it,” he said.
The project was implemented under UNDP’s “Sustainable Renewable Energy Power Generation Project” in partnership with the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resource.
It provides uninterrupted supply of grid quality electricity to 1,199 households, 684 shops, and 41 institutions on the island.
Earlier, the island’s only source of electricity used to be the Bangladesh Power Development Board’s generators at Monpura Sadar, which ran for only six hours a day.
Expanding the national grid to the remote island located in the estuary of the Meghna River in the northern Bay of Bengal would have been exceptionally challenging and expensive.
Monpura’s local communities now have access to a regular supply of electricity through the project’s two mini-grids — one of 279.5 kWp, and the other of 218.4 kWp capacity.
“Access to electricity has truly changed our lives,” said Md Faruk, a local resident. “It has been particularly beneficial for businesses, which can now rely on a steady supply of electricity to use technology for their activities,” he said.
In addition to UNDP and the GEF, IDCOL also partners with numerous development actors across the country, including the World Bank, JICA, UKAID, KfW, USAID, GPOBA and ADB.
Since 2015, the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), a Brussels-based non-profit global business association, has played a leading role in recognising clean energy access initiatives by the most passionate and innovative actors in the field. This year, ARE received 77 applications and unveiled the six winners on May 18.
The award will be handed over to IDCOL at the 6th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum to be held in September this year in Lusaka, Zambia.
Winners from previous years in this category include GIZ, UN Capital Development Fund, European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and EU Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility.