4:42 pm - Friday January 18, 5878

Narrow mindset hindering outlook for solar project

A conservative outlook in scrutinizing bids for a solar power project may jeopardise the government’s intention to lower the renewable energy price.
Even many world renowned companies are apprehended to be left out from participating in the final round of bidding, due to the narrow viewpoints of the bid evaluating body.
Official sources said that as part of the government’s 500 MW solar power programme, the state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) recently invited bids from local and international companies to set up a 30 MW solar power plant in Kurigram district.
solarThe companies were asked to submit their bids on all the three offers– the pre-qualification (PQ), the technical offer under request for proposal (RFP) and the financial offer–to PDB in three separate envelopes together, reports UNB.
Responding to the PDB’s call, a total of 8 international companies along with their local agents or partners submitted their bids accordingly.
The companies are: 1) Intraco-Juli Power (China) Consortium, 2). Beximco-Active Solar (Germany), 3). Bengal-Chint Solar (China) JV, 4). ETERN-CCCE (China)-Hareon Consortium (Local partner: Shako), 5). Hindustan Clean Energy Ltd. (L/A: GETCO), 6). Canadian Solar (L/A: Acorn Infrastructure Services;Bangla track), 7). Sunedison-Rahimafrooz-Cosmos, and 8). Sinha Power Generation Co. Ltd. & Jiangsu Zhongtian Technology (ZTT) & Venture Energy Resources Ltd.
Interestingly, there was no known marking criterion to evaluate the offers, even as the bid evaluation committee sat to scrutinize them.
As a result, it is alleged, the head of the evaluation committee got the scope to set the criteria arbitrarily and took a very narrow outlook to evaluate the PQ offers of the bidders.
This has surprised many of the members of the committee as some members strongly recommended maintaining a broader outlook to assess the PQ offers in particular, as it was the primary stage of any competitive bidding process.
But a rigid stance by the committee head on the issue finally sustained and narrowed down the competitive process, revealed a member of the committee preferring anonymity.
As a result, most of the renowned companies now apprehend being eliminated at the very initial stage of the bidding process despite having good track records globally in solar power projects.
Some PDB officials view the rigid stance of the head of the bid evaluation committee as some sort of manipulation by some businesses to drive out the most prospective companies from the bidding process.
They said the narrow competition will only give opportunity to a very limited number of companies, which would not ensure the lowest price of electricity.
They said the project needs wider competition for the sake of ensuring the lowest price – which is even more important because it will be seen as the reference price for future projects. By not doing so, it risks huge financial losses for the government with regard to future projects in the sector.
Also, some officials said, driving out world-renowned companies on silly grounds may create a bad perception about solar projects in Bangladesh. It would create a wrong signal for other potential international investors in the sector.