August 17, 2022, 6:39 am

Staff Correspondent

2021-12-07 07:59:56 BdST

ADB not to finance Kaptai floating solar power plant

The Asian Development Bank has decided not to fund the construction of a floating solar power plant on Kaptai Lake in Rangamati. 

Responding to a letter from the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt, Hongwei Zhang, finance specialist for energy at ADB's South Asia Department, said that the ADB has removed the Kaptai Lake project from its list of potential floating solar power projects, a press release of BWGED said on Monday.

Zhang said that instead of financing the floating solar power plant, the ADB is implementing a study to increase capacity to invest and implement renewable energy in Bangladesh.

“The report of this survey will include the economic, environmental and social impacts of floating solar power projects. The ADB will take the next step according to the survey report.”

In 2019, the Power Cell submitted a project proposal to ADB for a loan for the construction of a 50MW floating power plant on the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project Lake.

Following the proposal, the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority completed a feasibility study.

Highlighting the social and environmental detrimental effects of the project, the BWGED requested Kenichi Yokoyama, director-general of the South Asia Department of ADB, to provide information on the progress of the project as well as to withdraw from it, read the release.

The letter mentioned that the Kaptai dam had been built by the government of Pakistan by evicting millions of tribal communities of that area and by flooding 777sqkm of land.

Hence, if the floating solar power plants are developed on these lands, there will be no chance for those tribal communities to get back their ancestors’ lands, it said.

“Furthermore, aluminum, copper and cadmium released from floating solar power panels may contaminate the lake water, which could cause severe damage to the fisheries resources.

“Moreover, the people of Rangamati also depend on the Lake for availing drinking water. Hence, if this lake water becomes polluted, it can have serious negative effects on the public health,” the release added.

In the draft National Solar Energy Roadmap, it has been proposed to set up a 500MW solar power plant at Kaptai Lake.

Besides, the Power Division has taken initiative to build 100MW floating solar power plants in Rangpur and Jashore.

On the other hand, environmental organisations have demanded not to build floating solar power plants in floodplains like Bangladesh due to the risk of water pollution.

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