UK investment in energy sector soon
Author / Source : Sherpa Hossainy
DHAKA, NOV 14: A UK-based company is set to make its mark in Bangladesh’s energy and power sector by setting up diesel generator and solar panel manufacturing plants in a bid to expand its business in developing economies. “We want to become a premier manufacturer and supplier of diesel generators, which will be manufactured in Bangladesh and sold to both local and global markets,” said Steve Bandey, managing director of T&R Generators.
The company has already laid bare its business plan for the next five years in Bangladesh. “We want to quickly gain market penetration within the first three years,” Bandey told The Independent in an exclusive interview.
“We have several sites suggested for a factory. In January 2012, upon my return to Dhaka, we will choose the most appropriate and continue bearing in mind the possibility of an office in Dhaka,” he said.
Bandey said T&R is also eyeing investments in renewable energy sector by setting up a solar panel manufacturing factory in Bangladesh and produce quality solar panels at cheaper rates using the country’s cheap workforce. “We will introduce the design, manufacture and supply of renewable energy based products including solar-based photovoltaic and water heating systems and wind energy products,” he said.
T&R plans to commence its manufacture of diesel generators in Bangladesh early next year and is currently in the process of design, supply and manufacture its first generator, which will be exhibited to businessmen in January 2012, Bandey said.
“As we already have the technology and know-how, we’ll start the diesel generator plant first. Solar panel construction and manufacturing will follow on, once appropriate engineers are chosen and trained accordingly, also taking into consideration that factories are ready for use,” he added.
Bandey said strong light from sun can be used to produce high efficiency electricity in Bangladesh and T&R recognises the environmental and economic benefits of that. “We aim to install five solar PV arrays with capacity of 50 megawatts each and it would be possible within three years. However, this project is still at the development stages,” he said. T&R Generators Ltd, established in 1975, has enjoyed success in design, manufacture and supply of high-performance diesel engine generator sets ranging from 4.3kva to 3300kva. The British power company has extensive experience with power and power generation systems from large-scale to smaller specialist projects and has huge presence in Middle East, Africa and Asia. T&R is currently working in cooperation with local company Home Street Builders and Bandey believes that it is important to have local liaisons. “We are also in talks with other local energy companies to assist shape our business and move swiftly ahead,” he said.
Bandey also wants to include local talents and engineers and create employment opportunities in Bangladesh through T&R projects.
“It is our objective to use highly trained and skilled engineers and managers, already present in Bangladesh with the necessary guidance and support from our own team in the UK,” he said.
Explaining T&R’s reason to expand its business in Bangladesh, Bandey said: “We believe electricity is a key ingredient for the social and economic development of a country, and with the government’s policy statement and initiative for power generation companies, Bangladesh was our choice.” T&R has actually been present in Bangladesh for over 11 years with a large variety of clientele, he added. T&R also has plans for other renewable sources in Bangladesh such as wind power, especially in the coastal and higher areas of Bangladesh where it is windier, he said.
Bandey lauded the eagerness of key government officials from Power Division, Ministry of Establishment, Dhaka City Corporation, Planning Division, Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission, Power Development Board and members of parliament in T&R’s business here and said that the overwhelming support had assisted with the company’s decision to move its development plans forward.
Bandey stressed the need to switch over to renewable energy amid depleting gas and fossil fuel resources of Bangladesh and said that poverty and lack of access to energy are closely linked.
“Bangladesh desires to make electricity available to all by 2021. This will be achieved more easily by focusing on natural resources (solar/wind) rather than extending a failing grid network; however fossil fuels will still be very important in other areas.
“Renewable energy (solar/wind) will benefit people in more rural and isolated areas, as no infrastructure is available; whereas city areas will benefit from immediate improvements to the national grid and using solar power to support the grid on new structures,” Bandey said.
The T&R managing director said solar energy might seem expensive but in the long run it is cheaper than any other energy source. Present customers must understand that the initial outlay for a solar system is expensive, however after that maintenance is very minimal and other costs are zero, he said.
“When you produce surplus electricity from the power plant, you could sell it to others and make a return on your investment. It is assumed that within 5-7 years the system will pay off,” he added.
Steve Bandey said that solar electric energy demand has grown by an average 30 per cent annually over the past 20 years against a backdrop of rapidly declining costs and prices, and this decline has been driven by manufacturing scale, technology improvements and the increasing efficiency of solar cells.
“In developing countries like Bangladesh, markets have benefited from the steady decline in solar PV prices, but they have also been stimulated by continued multilateral and bilateral development aid. This has meant that solar has been an enabling technology for developmental programmes for education, clean water and healthcare etc,” Bandey said. He said T&R is also planning to develop a customer-centric organisation based on cutting edge technology with the development of fuel cell technology in association with a UK university’s technical team.
However, the T&R chief did not want to disclose the total amount of investments the company is contemplating but said that it will be significant. “It is difficult to estimate costing at this moment, however I can say the more success at each stage, the more investment will continue to be added,” Bandey said.