Land, capital and labour are key to any economic venture. But investors in Bangladesh's renewable energy sector claim that finding land for setting up a business is their biggest challenge.
This, they say, is gradually turning out to be a major hindrance to setting up green power projects in this country -- particularly at this juncture when the government is focussing on low-cost renewable energy in view of the country's climate change commitments.
Investors say it's high time that the government leased out land in char (island) areas for a minimum of 25 years to private players waiting to employ capital for a green and clean Bangladesh.
This would also help Bangladesh meet its commitment to generate 25% of its total power from renewable sources by 2030 and 40% by 2050.
Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda) figures show that the government has undertaken a total of 47 grid-connected large solar power projects in the past 10 years. But so far, only seven of them have been implemented.
Sreda officials say that any solar power plant would require three times more land than the conventional power projects, "but undisputed land seems to be have become a scare resource in Bangladesh these days".
In the past few years, many local and foreign investors have expressed interest in setting up green power plants. "But even after getting an approval, several of them have not been able to acquire land for their dream projects," says an official.
According to former Sreda member Siddique Zobair, when an investor fails to acquire adequate land for a project, their financers also withdraw themselves from the scheme. "No agency wants to take the risk of financing a project having no land."
Scatec Solar, a European investor wanting to set up a 50 MW plant at Nilphamari, for instance, had to finally abandon a project, he says.
Dipal Chandra Barua, the president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association (BSREA), concurs.
"it will be very easy to generate 5,000 MW of solar power if the government steps in to arrange land in the char areas on lease. It will reduce the cost of power generation from solar energy as well," he says.
Munawar Misbah Moin, president of the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh (SMMAB), says that leasing out land in char areas will definitely play a vital role in scaling up efforts for implementing solar power projects.
"Many countries, including neighbouring India, are now emphasising on renewable energy from a climate change perspective, which Bangladesh should follow by setting up more solar power plants that are very environment-friendly," he asserts.
Bangladesh currently holds the presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and gives the lead in the global campaign for promoting all efforts towards urgently reinforcing climate and economic resilience.
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