The State of Green Energy in Bangladesh

As one of the five fastest-growing economies, Bangladesh's energy requirements have kept up with its economic growth. Unfortunately, this puts a strain on its existing energy infrastructure. However, with renewable energy sources, the country can tackle both energy production and access, despite its rapid economic expansion. To identify, set up, and utilize renewable energy production, there need to be coordinated efforts across technologies, information, and institutions.

In this case study, we're going to specifically focus on the challenges that one might encounter when setting up solar power plants in the southwest coastal regions of Bangladesh.

According to average long-term data collected on sunshine in Bangladesh, coastal regions in the country receive between 3 and 11 hours of sunshine every day. However, these regions also happen to be underdeveloped.

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About the customer

Our client, Energon Renewables is a subsidiary of the Orion Group which is one of the largest Independent Power Producers (IPP) in Bangladesh.

One of Energon's goals is to set an example to the rest of the power-generation sector, by implementing an environment-friendly solar power plant generating 100 MW a year (an equivalent to 90,000 tons of coal), close to Port Mongla in the south-west region of the country. With 95% of Bangladesh's power generation stemming from gas, diesel, and coal, Energon's solar plant marks a step in the direction of generating energy from renewable sources. At the moment, the Electricity Sector in Bangladesh has one national grid with an installed capacity of 24,000 MW. This project will be added to the national power grid, which means 0.4% of Bangladesh's energy will be green.

The Challenge

Energon had planned that the imports needed to set up the solar plant in Mongla, were to come from China, the biggest challenges faced went beyond normal import procedures:

  • The project site was remote and lacked in basic amenities (electricity, sanitation, water)
  • There was no yard ready for cargo stacking
  • The site was close to a riverbank and the highway, but didn’t have a jetty, or a roadway

The area had to be developed before we could work on importing the cargo required for the solar plant. This was more than an Ocean import project, and Energon needed trusted vendors to help in this regard.

First things first

Md Manjurul Islam (the Sales Account Manager from Sealand – A Maersk Company), reached out to our experts in Maersk Execution Team, to discuss how to solve Energon's problems. Together, we visited the project site to better understand the project site's exact requirements.

Preliminary Findings

We sectioned the sites where different types of cargo had to be delivered, into two plots – Plot A & B. Both these sites had different requirements.

Plot A was closer to the riverbank (it needed equipment for jetty and yard construction as well as cargo handling).
Plot B needed a roadway from the highway to the yard area on this site, as well as a cargo yard.

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A detailed proposal was shared to –

  • Construct a barge jetty at Plot A
  • Construct connecting road from highway to Plot B
  • Construct a cargo yard for container storage at both sites
  • Procure barges, trailers, trucks, cranes and other equipment needed to ensure containers & cargo delivery for both sites
  • Ensure CoVID safety for everyone on both sites, by creating temporary worker’s shade, sanitation etc.

This has been one of the most challenging and complex landside projects undertaken, as well as the largest integrated Ocean and L&S project handled by Sealand Bangladesh.

Upon assessing the site, teams across functions worked together on both the ocean transportation and on setting up Plots A and B, collaborating with multiple stakeholders, vendors, and processes while dealing with various hurdles on the ground (such as no sanitation, mud, no stable ground, etc).

Cargo flow chart

The Results

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Project tenure and timelines

Due to CoVID, the L&S project was held for a year. On 11 Oct 2020, we formally received the tender invitation from the Orion Group and were awarded the project on 12 Nov 2020. While there were a few unforeseen circumstances along the way where plans needed to change – such as when transportation and offloading needed to be expedited to reduce port storage costs – Sealand worked closely with the customer to ensure their needs are met.

“Partnering with Energon Renewables (BD) Ltd. through our integrated logistics solution was incredible due to the diversity of the jobs, sharp timelines, overcoming infrastructural impediments, innovativeness in developing the solutions and inevitable challenges of COVID-19,” shares Tanim Shahriar, Sealand Bangladesh’ Country Manager. “We are proud to play a role in building this 100- megawatt solar power plant, which is going to be a remarkable establishment at the south-west part of the country.”

All import deliveries for the project entrusted to Sealand and Maersk are expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.

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Integrated solutions mean faster actions with lesser interactions

Where Energon's project team had to work with multiple local vendors, now anything related to the project only needed to be coordinated via two contact points – one from the commercial team and one from the execution team. These contact points from Sealand orchestrated communications and plans to optimize ocean as well as coordination with all the local vendors on the ground. Some of the services offered by Sealand and Maersk includes Ocean & Inland Transportation, Barging, Unloading, Infrastructure Development.

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Cut down on expenses, maximize transparency

For projects like these that involve sensitive equipment such as solar panels, expert handling is critical to ensure the successful execution while avoiding inconveniences such as delays, unforeseen cost and complex communications. The integrated solutions offered by both Sealand and Maersk have helped Energon cut down on expenses, effort, and time. Our performance was largely appreciated by the client's project team for transparency, operational excellence, innovative ideas, quality of work, and strong control over project management.

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We at ERBL appreciate M/s Maersk and Sealand's efforts and professionalism in the execution of the inland transportation package for our 100MW (AC) PV-based grid-tied solar project.
So far, we have been very satisfied by your timely performance, good execution, safe handling of materials, coordination with our requirements, and fulfilling jobs as per the commitments. We wish that we will get this continuous support till the completion of the project and hope to work together again in our upcoming projects.
We believe and hope that the success story of Sealand - A Maersk Company will be more widespread in the coming days.
Wish you all the best.

Mehedi Islam Aneek
Manager, Power Projects

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