Wednesday, 08 July, 2020

Solar boat on waterways on the cards

Published on: 12:22 pm - Friday | December 14, 2018


The government has adopted a plan to introduce solar-powered passenger boats on the waterways aiming to check water pollution, provide a safe home to aquatic species and enhance the living
standard of the local people as well.

“Generally, engine-run small boats are being used for carrying passengers on short-length waterways in the country. Instead of the engine-run boats, we are considering how solar boats could be introduced to save energy and environment,” said Siddique Zobair, a member of Sustainable & Renewable
Energy Development Authority (SREDA).

He said SREDA has already built five conventional solar-powered boats which are plying the waterways here on an experimental basis. “If we can build fiber-glass based boats with solar panels, the boats will be sustainable,” he added.

But, Zobair said, entrepreneurs must come forward to produce fiber-glassboats commercially to make those cost effective for boatmen. For being sustainable, the demand for fiber-glass boats will go up, he added.

“We’ve already held a meeting with a Chattogram-based French agency to know about the cost of fiber-glass boats. We are also communicating with Chinese firms, which produce fiber-glass boats,” he said, adding that iffiber-glass boats could be produced commercially, its production cost will come down, which will be cost-effective for boatmen in carry passengers.

According to official statistics, the country has 24,140 kilometres ofwaterway comprising about 800 rivers and their branches. Wood-made boats are commonly used there. Nowadays, diesel-powered boats are mostly used for transportation with the adjacent villages of rivers and for fishing purpose.

The engine-run boat is fuel-inefficient and the majority of these boats depend on imported diesel resulting in a comparatively high operation and maintenance cost. Besides, diesel-run boats cause harm to environment discharging oil and chemical substances into river water. The diesel engine
also produces enormous sound.

Considering the adverse impacts of engine-boats on environment, SREDA with the assistance of UNDP Bangladesh has produced five solar energy-based boats, which are readily operational in Hatirjeel lake in the capital Dhaka, Panam Lake in Narayanganj and Fay’s Lake in Chattogram on a pilot basis.

Dr Md Taibur Rahman, project manager of Sustainable Renewable Power Generation Project of UNDP Bangladesh, said the limit of carbon outflow from solar boat is zero and that is why solar boats are suitable for water routes as it will not only contribute to saving money, but also saving environment.

About the environmental benefits of the solar boats, he said the use of about 6.67 liters of diesel worth Tk 494 will be decreased daily by a solar- powered boat while each solar boat will reduce 5.89 tonnes of annual carbon dioxide outflow. “Solar boat is hundred percent environment-friendly and free from greenhouse gas emission,” he added.

Taibur said once the fiber-based solar boats are produced commercially, the cost of a boat will be about Tk 3 to 4 lakh, which will be affordable for boatmen.

Considering the environmental benefits of the solar boats, Siddique Zobair said, incentives should be given to producing fiber-glass based boats. “But, we must know how much incentive would be given…our target is the introduction of the solar boat on river routes anyway aiming to save energy,” he added. (BSS)