Rahimafrooz Batteries Ltd, Bangladesh, Solar home systems – Ashden Award winner

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This video can be downloaded here: http://www.ashdenawards.org/winners/rahimafrooz Rahimafrooz Batteries won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2006.

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Rahimafrooz Batteries Ltd has played a leading role in the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project (REREDP) – a large scale programme to provide solar home systems (SHS) to rural households in Bangladesh. Rahimafrooz has manufactured and supplied the rechargeable batteries for over 75,000 systems, as well as charge controllers and fluorescent lamps. Rahimafrooz has also exported over 80,000 batteries for PV systems, mostly to Nepal and Bhutan.

Nearly 70% of households in Bangladesh are not connected to the electricity grid and so depend on kerosene for lighting. This includes most rural areas, and also the fringes of Dhaka. There are plans to extend the grid, but there is little prospect of substantial change in the near future. The REREDP, which is funded by the World Bank and GEF and managed by the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), initially aimed to provide 50,000 systems by the end of 2007, but this has already been increased to 200,000 systems because of the success of the programme, and may be further increased. IDCOL provides Participating Organisations (POs) in the programme with subsidies and concessional loans to purchase PV systems in bulk, and the partners can then provide credit to rural households to buy systems. PV electricity can have a huge impact on people’s lives, providing power for lighting, phone charging, education and entertainment.

One reason for the success of the project is the local availability of components from the manufacturing and development work of Rahimafrooz. The company has applied its considerable expertise in battery manufacture to the production of batteries specifically for PV systems, as well as diversifying into the design of charge controllers and fluorescent lamps for local manufacture. Rahimafrooz has also supplied 25,000 complete SHSs, mostly for IDCOL POs under the REREDP, and has provided training and technical support for these POs. Outside the REREDP, Rahimafrooz has installed 448 kWp of other PV systems.

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