International Development Project An Exploration: Feasibility of Solar-biomass Hybrid Cold Storage for Un-electrified Rural Areas of Bangladesh

A collaboration between BRAC and the student association Sefa of the University of Amsterdam investigated the cause of perishable food loss and suggested a solar energy based cold storage solution in 2013. Following the recommendations of this project, a second phase of research was initiated with the aim of investigating the economic and technical feasibility of a solar-biomass hybrid cold storage to prevent the loss of potatoes at the farmer level. This research has two main objectives: to determine whether the hybrid-cooling model is technically and economically feasible and to address the potential scope for its implementation in rural off-grid areas where no grid connection is expected within the next 15 years. The study area is diverse and includes various geographic locations of Bangladesh and India. The study was mostly qualitative in nature with some quantitative calculations and utilised standard data collection techniques: In-Depth Interviews (IDIs), Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and direct observations. The report starts with a review of relevant literature on the importance of potato storage, cold storage techniques and the various renewable energy based cooling technologies. The economic and technical feasibility of solar cooling, biomass-based cooling and solar-biomass hybrid cold storage is discussed to get a broader sense of the feasibility parameters. The report continues with a methodology section in which both the qualitative and quantitative methods are set out. The findings section gives an account of the outcomes of our research with regards to both the objectives. The findings of this research suggest that implementation of all three of the evaluated renewable energy based cold storage models is feasible in Bangladesh, when appropriate use is made of potential revenue streams from byproducts such as silica, from ash and from excess electricity for village electrification. However, all three models have high investment and operational costs, resulting in high per unit electricity production costs. Therefore, such a project may require subsidies, which are justifiable from a food security viewpoint, an agricultural empowerment viewpoint, an environmental viewpoint and the viewpoint of a long-term economic development for local communities in Bangladesh. Moreover, a number of issues need consideration beforehand: the appropriate location and technology need to be chosen and expert opinion is needed during the design and implementation phase.

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  • Writer Name: Zainu Sadia Islam, Priyanka Chowdhury, Allison Elgie, Andrew Jenkins, Casper Deitch, Wesley Kuiper, Berbel Pietersma, Mariëlle Plasmeijer and Max Slagt
  • Published Date: Thursday, 02 June 2016
  • Country: Bangladesh