Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Limited demonstrated a solar-powered irrigation pump to government officials yesterday as part of its plan to embark on installing such devices countrywide.
Rahimafrooz launched a 10-horse-power water pump in Kaishar Char village in Savar, which could pump out five-lakh-litre water a day using sunlight. It can save one-litre diesel an hour.
The renewable energy company demonstrated the pump after Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) had sought to see such demonstrations by the private firms to examine the financial viability to deploy solar pumps for irrigation across the country.
After the function, Niaz Rahim, chairman of Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy, said the initial cost of installing the solar pump was Tk 30 lakh and is warranted to serve for 20 years without requiring any running or maintenance cost.
Even if the installation cost of a solar pump is high, there is no maintenance cost as such, which makes it cost-effective over the years it will operate.
A 10-horse-power-diesel engine consumes 1,350 litres of diesel a year and requires over Tk 3 lakh in total costs to run for one year, which does not include government subsidy on diesel.
But running a solar pump for one year costs only Tk 1.5 lakh.
Talking to reporters at the agrarian village, Nazmun Nahar, the company's marketing and sales executive, said the pump would reduce 36 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.
Through carbon trading, a pump owner will be able to earn $10 against reducing each tonne of gas emission, she said.
In a briefing on the project site, Rahim said the initial cost of setting up a solar energy pump is high, which is not possible for farmers to afford. But cooperatives and government financing can be a solution, he emphasised.
In Boro season, 1.33 million pump irrigate paddy fields in the country, with 80 percent run by diesel that consume 800 million litres of diesel a day, according to the company statistics.
The government provides Tk 5,400 million in cash subsidy on diesel-run pumps a year, according to company statistics.
But solar pumps will be able to save a huge amount of public money, company officials said.
On the issue, Dr SM Nazmul Islam, chairman of BADC, said the government would examine financial benefits of such pumps, but added that the initial installation cost is high.
About the demonstration by Rahimafrooz, he said: "Responding to our call, some other companies have also installed solar pumps to demonstrate their efficiencies."
The company pioneered solar pumps in the country in 2004 and has since sold 10 pumps mainly to government and nongovernmental organisations.