Bangladeshi solar module companies seek Covid-19 stimulus package

07 May 2020 10:11 AM
Industry representatives require a $59 million, five-year package of grants, loans and tax incentives from the federal government after Dhaka extended a coronavirus-driven professional shutdown in to the middle of the month.

Solar manufacturers in Bangladesh have asked for government support after being crippled by a 40-day Covid-19 industrial shutdown.

Module makers have demanded BDT5 billion ($58.9 million) worth of grants; interest-free, long-term loans; and tax incentives over another five years to help them weather the crisis.

Industry representatives also have called for an application to drive solar rooftop installation on public buildings to be fast-tracked to create work for solar manufacturers and installers now the federal government has extended the industrial shutdown until at least May 16.

“We want the assist with minimize the financial losses the sector incurred through the shutdown and keep afloat the investment opportunity,” wrote Munawar Moin, president of the Solar Module Manufacturers Association of Bangladesh, in a letter to the Ministry of Finance and Commerce.


Moin also cited a shortage of solar power raw materials through the Bangladeshi lockdown period. The president of the industry body said 10,000 persons have employment with the industry in Bangladesh and the halt to productivity had also reduced forex generated for the treasury by exports.

The Covid-19 crisis dashed hopes for the industry after it had earlier designated solar power panels the nation’s product of the entire year, raising interest among investors.

Bangladesh has nine solar companies which, combined, can produce a lot more than 100 MW of modules each year.

Dipal C Barua, president of the Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association, told pv magazine urgent government action was necessary.

“We've no work now,” he said. “We are even failing woefully to pay salaries to employees through the prolonged shutdown.” The industry association president said his organization was assessing the extent of the financial damage suffered by members and would soon approach the politicians for assistance.

Rooftop solar

“There is huge prospect of setting up solar rooftop panels on public buildings which can generate a large number of megawatts of electricity,” said Barua, adding: “If the federal government quickens and eases the procedures, we can get some good jobs in this crisis moment.”

A senior official at the Ministry of Finance told pv magazine prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed had already announced BDT1 trillion worth of stimulus packages to greatly help industrial sectors cope and recover.

“Renewables is now a government priority sector,” said the official. “They are able to get funds from … Incentive Package-2, which [was] formed to supply working capital to medium [-sized] enterprises.”  

Bangladesh generates 629 MW of renewable energy, of which 395.17 MW originates from solar. The federal government aims to generate 10% of the nation’s electricity from renewables by next year.