Solar Energy for High-Rise Buildings in Urban Areas

Seminar on Solar Energy for High-Rise Buildings in Urban Areas

Venue: IUBAT Conference Hall, July 30, 2009

Presented by Dr. Mohammed Ataur Rahman, Director, Program on Education for Sustainability, Centre for Global Environmental Culture (CGEC)
IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology,Bangladesh


Solar Energy is one of the most important energy sources of the present world. With the development of technology for a modern life, especially for running the industries, transportation, domestic appliances, agriculture, health, education and research, food storage and transportation, and recreation etc., demand for energy is experienced at an increasing rate. The major sources of energy, especially, the fossil fuels have alarmingly depleted and the world stands at the brisk of great energy crisis. Moreover, burning fossil fuels has resulted in global worming, climate change and ecological damage putting the planet in great danger.

Rapid urbanization and concentration of population in the cities have created manifest crises such as energy, water, pollution, waste management, sanitation and natural disasters like floods, cyclones, drought, earthquakes and melting of glaciers of the mountains and Polar Regions causing rise in sea level. Therefore, it is essential to use an ecofriendly and green energy. About 40% of the world’s population has migrated to the cities, covering less than 1% of area of the world. Many cities of the world viz. California, New Mexico, Madrid, Rome, Tel Abeeb, Shanghai and Hong Kong etc., have already started utilizing solar energy as a primary source. In our neighboring country, the City Corporation of Kolkata has already started taken massive plan to make Model Solar Townships.

Bangladesh is a densely populated developing country with more than 1200 people per square kilometer and the present population is about 160 million. Only 43% of the total population has the access to electricity However, with increasing demand for electricity, especially for industrial expansion, construction and domestic uses, the supply and power generation is facing tremendous pressure and load shedding has become a common occurrence in the urban areas.

So Bangladesh should also start using solar energy in the urban areas immediately to overcome the energy crisis.

San Francisco Airport International Airport (SFO)

Picture-1: Solar City, California, USA

Urbanization and Energy Demand

With the rapid population growth millions of people are concentrating in the townships every year for job, livelihoods, security and for better facilities. New industries and buildings are growing and the demand for electricity is rising at an alarming rate. Due to shortage of available lands, high-rise buildings are being constructed need extra electricity for lifts and domestic utility purposes Moreover, thousands of textile and garments industries with millions of workers are gathered in the cities for which demand of electricity has risen. Educational institutions, offices and commercial enterprises, hospitals, water supply and purification, gas and electrical plants and installations need huge electricity everyday.

Picture-2: High-Rise Buildings in Dhaka

Present Sources of Power Generation
Power generation is usually met from the following sources although Bangladesh is yet to explore the all, because of its limited technical and financial resource utilization capabilities.

The sources of electrical power
– Hydroelectric Power Station
– Natural Gas
– Oil
– Coal
– Bio-gas
– Solar Energy
– Bio fuel Thermal Power
– Wind
– Nuclear Power
– Ocean Current

The Hydroelectric power station at Kaptai supplies most of the electricity to the country’s power transmission system. But with the decreasing depth of the Kaptai water reservoir, the water-holding capacity has been reduced at 40% due to heavy siltation from the over-exploited and denuded hill forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Moreover, over the last 37 years the average rainfall has also fallen. As a result hydroelectric power generation is being hampered seriously specially in the dry season from the Mid-October to April/May. During that period only two out of five units of the power station can be run.

Gas is a great energy resource with multidisciplinary uses, especially for manufacturing chemical fertilizers, glues, and liquid gas for transports and cooking, and domestic cooking purpose. As gas is a very important fuel for cooking its distribution and consumption are increasing very rapidly. On the contrary, the conventional system of domestic use practice is very inefficient. A huge quantity of gas is wasted. Moreover, the reserves of gas and oil are very limited and not sustainable.


Although Bangladesh has a good reserve of high quality Anthracite Coal mining is very difficult as the sources are at a very high depth. Therefore, coal may not be very cost effective for electric power generation. Besides, burning of coal and other fossil fuel is not eco-friendly rather emitting greenhouse gases and warming up the global temperature and causing climate change effects.


Utilization of bio-gas is in a very infant stage and sources are very limited. Moreover, through bio-gas model short-cycled and systematic recycling of organic matters can not be ensured.

Bio-fuel thermal power

Although generation of thermal energy from bio-fuel is an efficient use of wood materials but in Bangladesh with the expansion of agriculture along with increasing population sufficient bio-fuel will not be available. Moreover, burning wood fuel also causes increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, as well as, temperature.


The coastal belt receives a good wind speed but is not suitable for erection of wind mills due to occasional high-speed cyclonic storms, which would destroy any wind mill structures.

Ocean current

It may be a source of power generation but again cyclonic storm could damage the structures.

• Nuclear power may be an answer for a good source of electricity but safe disposal of nuclear wastes is a big concern to the ecosystem of this densely populated country.
• Therefore, we need a sustainable energy source which can ensure our continuous supply of electricity.

Solar energy

The ultimate energy source of the lives on the earth is the easy solution to substitute the conventional energy sources. All plants and animals are use solar energy, which is trapped by the green plants during photosynthesis. By trapping solar radiation and converting it to electric energy is an answer for sustainable energy for Bangladesh.

Solar energy has been used by humans for thousands of years. Ancient cultures used energy from the sun to keep warm by starting fires with it. They also kept their homes warm through use of passive solar energy. Buildings were designed so that, walls and floors collected solar heat during the day that was released at night to keep them warm. If you stand in the sun to get warm then you too are using solar thermal energy.

The discovery of the photovoltaic cell happened in 1839 when the French physicist Edmond Becquerel first showed photovoltaic activity. Edmond found that electrical current in certain materials could be increased when exposed to light. In 1905, Albert Einstein clearly described the photoelectric effect, the principle on which photovoltaic are cell based.

Solar cells of practical use have been available since the mid 1950’s. By 1960 Hoffman Electronics increased commercial solar cell efficiencies from 6% to 14% and today researchers have developed cells with more than 30% efficiencies. 40% efficient means that out of the total energy that hits the surface of a solar cell; about 20% is converted into usable electricity.

The first long-term practical application of PV cells was in satellite systems and in 1958 the Vanguard I, was launched into space. It was the first orbiting vehicle to be powered by solar energy. Photovoltaic silicon solar cells provided the electrical power to the satellite until 1964 when the system was shut down. The solar power system was so successful that PV’s have been a part of world-wide satellite space programs ever since. The sun provides endless nonpolluting energy to the satellite power systems and demand for solar cells has risen as a result of the telecommunications revolution and need for satellites.

An economic breakthrough occurred in the 1970’s when Dr Elliot Berman was able to design a less expensive solar cell bringing the price down from $100 per watt to $20 per watt. This huge online pharmacy no prescription needed cost savings opened up a large number of applications that were not considered before because of high costs. These applications included railroads, lighthouses, off-shore oil rigs, buoys, and remote homes. For some countries and many applications, solar energy is now considered a primary energy source, not an alternative.

More energy falls on the Earth from the sun in a few days than has been generated by humans over our entire history. Less than one percent of the Earth’s surface would have to be covered by photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity systems to provide all the primary energy consumed by the human race in 2000.

Recently in California, 14 Thermal Solar Power Plants are going to construct that will collectively supply more than 2.6 GW (gigawatts) of electricity for connection to 1.8 million homes.

Nearly 300 megawatts of power can easily be generated from solar energy to feed the hungry national grid if solar-power systems are installed on rooftops of 20,000 multistoried buildings in Dhaka, experts say.

A photovoltaic system will deliver a visible and smart building material which actively reduces our building’s carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time provides us with inflation-proof electricity at the point of demand

Using Solar PV to be Green

• An average 1.8 KWp Solar PV system can reduce our household carbon emissions by over 900kg CO2/yr.

• Once a Solar PV system has been installed and running, it generates electricity from Solar PV without emitting any harmful emissions.

• Solar PV is made from a Plentiful Resource: Most Solar PV panels are made of silicon which comes from sand and plenty of this resource is available

Dhaka is a mega city with an area of 1530 km² and a total population is more than 10.5 million. About 1.2 million people are engaged in garments and textile industries. load shedding is common causing the workforce is to sit idle If on an average, one working hour lost by 1.2 million workers in a day, the financial loss stands at:

Total workers 1,200,000 Nos
Working hour loss 1,200,000 Hours
= 150,000 Man-days
= 5,000 Man-months
Total loss for wages BDT: = 5000 X 4000= BDT 20,000,000 per month
Total annual Loss = 20,000,000X 12 = BDT 240,000,000

Why Solar Energy?

• Bangladesh receives high intensity sunlight for most of the year.
• Solar power supply system does not require large infra-structure like, Power substations, Transmission Poles, lines and other distribution equipment.
• Remote areas can easily be covered and small units can be installed for power generation
• No detrimental substances are released to the environment .

Therefore, solar energy can substitute for conventional energy sources, especially for the emergency services, hospitals, educational institutes, high-rise buildings and cold storage etc. where uninterrupted electricity supply is essential.

Present Scenario of Electricity

Total present requirement of Electricity : 5,500 MW

Present electricity generation capacity : 4,120 MW

Present deficit : 1,280 MW

Electricity demand increment rate 8.1 %/year

Electricity required by 2020 10,450 MW

Present Production Sources Production (%)
• Hydroelectric power 5.7
• Gas/Oil 84
• Coal 7.3
• Bio Gas Very insignificant
• Solar energy only for Rural Areas 60, 000 Units of 1.3-3.2 KW capacity
• Bio-fuel thermal power 0
• Nuclear energy 0
• Wind mill 0
• Ocean Current 0

Model Solar Energy Project For at IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology – a Higher Education Institute

Need for Solar Energy Project:

Bangladesh is a highly populated country It needs efficient manpower to combat poverty and for export of efficient manpower to cultivate and utilize potential resources of the less populated countries like Canada, Australasia, Nordic and Caucasian countries etc., to sustain in this competitive manpower marketplace of the world. Bangladesh needs to produce highly skilled and practical knowledge-based young graduates. For this, well-equipped, technically supported modern laboratories, especially for computer, information technology, medical and health sciences, tourism and hospitality, electrical and electronics, civil and mechanical engineering, agricultural, physical and environmental sciences etc. and scholarly resourceful higher educational institutes are needed where education and training should be provided.

Since time and age are critical factors; any interruption will affect the education. To save the time and to work forward neck to neck with the global current knowledge and to keep the students updated with the advanced world e-education is utmost essential. To go forward with this aim, it is essential to provide electricity for the students and researchers for continuous study and communication links with worldwide e-education system of the neo-world. Any interruption or failure of electricity disturbs study.

Considering the time factor and linkage with the modern world, Model Solar Energy Project can help to support educational facilities without any interruption. IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology is the first Non-government University of Bangladesh established in 1991. It has academic collaboration with 60 universities of Canada, USA, UK, Australia and Japan etc. All time coordination is essential for studies to be continued with advance knowledge and technology for which uninterrupted power supply is badly needed.

• Present requirement of Electricity of IUBAT 45 KW

• Power interruption from the main Grid 270 Study Hours (from 21/5/2008)

• Study hour loss 675,000 Hours

• Man-day loss 84,375 days

• Program loss/delayed More than 500

• Interruption of distant/E-education Very significant

• Utility services disruption/damages Significant

Continuous electricity supply can drive forward the education and production of expert human resources in a critical time of Climate Change and Global Warming when migration of skilled youths is a first priority.

• IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology is a multidisciplinary academic institute and successfully producing skilled and expert manpower. Many of them are working overseas countries with high reputation. Therefore, to facilitate its academic atmosphere, continuous and uninterrupted electricity with solar energy will strengthen further its education atmosphere. This Solar Energy project will be a model for other higher education institutes. Solar Energy supported education can go ahead faster with academic knowledge to compete in the global marketplace without losing study/man-hours.

• Therefore, a model project with Solar Energy can accelerate the education programs and man power development of Bangladesh. This project can be copied for other Educational Institutes, Emergency Services like Hospitals and industries.

Benefits of Solar Energy Installation at IUBAT

IUBAT is located at Uttara near the river Turag has a vast open space for utilizing solar radiation to facilitate uninterrupted power supply. In the present energy hungry situation it will provide electricity for

• Continuous education/study to build up higher educated manpower without implementation due to load shedding
• Through continuous uninterrupted electricity supply the computers and internet communication can be utilized all time.
• As a nonpolluting power source IUBAT will have the opportunity to use Solar energy as green energy.

Financial Constraint and Challenges for Implementation:
For implementation of solar energy project initial establishment cost is very high. It is difficult to bear the procurement and installation cost by a non-government university. Moreover to maintain an uninterrupted power supply sufficient electricity generation will be required to ensure the power supply during maintenance and no sunlight period. Climatic factors are also a big challenge for solar energy. Sun shine hour ranges from 5.4-5.8 hours per day in the monsoon and 8.5-9.1 hours per day in the winter and pre-monsoon seasons. Cloudy and continuous rainfall may exceed 7days in July and August in most of the years. On the other hand in the winter especially in December and January foggy days remain for more in a week when no sun shine is available.
From the climatological record maximum sunny days is 297days in a year. Therefore it should be encountered with appropriate technology to have sufficient electricity generation facility for the no sunshine days.

Disposal of waste may be another problem for which safe disposal system should be ensured.

Expenses and Finance

Since procurement and installation expenses are very high and uninterrupted electricity generation is still uncertain so a model project can be start segment wise

Solar model for Single room:

For implantation of the solar project following items are required for which funding is required For 1000 W with 3.764 KWH per day consumption for Home/Office
• Photovoltaic modules: Solar module : 1000W
• Inverter: DC-AC Converter : 2000W
• Batteries: Lead-acid battery : 48V/400W
• Solar controller : 48V/30A

• Total cost will be required about – BDT 276,000

Computer labrotaroy:

For a 10.698 KWH unit that will cover the requirement of power for Computer laboratory.

• Photovoltaic modules: Solar module : 3000W
• Inverter: DC-AC Converter : 5000W
• Batteries: Lead-acid battery : 48 V/600W
• Solar controller : 48V/60A

Total cost will be required about – BDT 621,000

IUBAT Campus:

For the University as a whole, it requires 45 KW, the cost of which will be about
USD 9000X4= USD 36,000= BDT 2,484,000

Installation Method: The supplier will provide the installation drawings or door-to-door service

Note: Continuous energy supply ensures for minimum 3 consecutive sunlight days without appreciable.

Cost Benefit Analysis

At present about BDT. 60,000 is spent for Electricity bill
And another BDT 30,000 is spent for Diesel fueled Standby power generation
For maintenance Electric lines and Standby Generator another BDT 10000.00 is spent every month. Therefore, a total expense for conventional power per month is:
Electricity Bill from DESCO: BDT: 60,000
Diesel for Standby Generator BDT: 30,000
Operation and Maintenances BDT: 5,000
Total Expenses per month: BDT: 95,000
Therefore, yearly expenditure is BDT 1,140,000approximately

Moreover, frequent breakdown but and load shedding disrupts power supply systems Use of Diesel is not eco-friendly rather emits greenhouse gases end Pollutes the environment

The whole cost of solar power generation package will be recouped expenses within 2 year and 2 months only. After that the IUBAT community will harness the benefit with no spending for energy procurement. Moreover, renewable solar energy system ensures continuous electricity without hampering or disrupting the power system and equipment is nonpolluting and eco-friendly.


1. To overcome the present energy crisis, the Government should take immediate measure to make a policy for installation of solar power in all high-rise buildings of Dhaka and other cities of the country
2. Solar Energy Policy should be included in the urban Building Codes
3. Both Photovoltaic modules and Thermal Solar Mega-Power Towers for mass connections should be taken under consideration
4. The Government should subsidized the procurement and installation cost considering Solar Energy as a primary Green Electricity source to overcome the present energy crisis.
5. Emergency services viz. hospitals, fire brigades, cold storage and water supply etc., and educational institutes should get preference.


During the present energy crisis, it is essential to introduce alternative eco-friendly energy to run the social, industrial, transport, health and educational systems etc. to mitigate the energy crisis immediately. Solar energy is the best option for alternate and sustainable energy is the context of Bangladesh. It is true that the ultimate source of energy of the planet earth is the sun and the plants are harnessing solar energy through photosynthesis which is the only source of our food energy. Since we know the benefits, we should start using solar energy in urban areas for our industry, daily life, transport, and health and education systems. As Bangladesh is an energy hungry country it is suffering tremendously losing the millions of working hours due to shortage of electricity with frequent load shedding. The government should subsidies solar energy package in the urban high-rise installations for uninterrupted supply of electricity to meet up the demands towards climate change adaptation.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Dr. M Alimullah Miyan, Vice Chancellor and Founder of IUBAT for introducing “Program on Education for Sustainability” in higher education level first time in Bangladesh and also for declaring IUBAT as a “Green Campus” with sustainable practices. I would like to acknowledge Professor Eric Frank of University of Bath, U.K. for his support and valuable suggestions for implementation of the program. Many thanks to Dr. Engineer Khursheed-Ul-Islam, Senior Adviser of German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and Engineer Rezaul Islam General Manager of Grameen Shokti, Dhaka, I would also like to acknowledge my friend Dr. Robin Upton a British Scholar for their valuable speeches and suggestions. My sincere thanks are extended to all the participants, especially, my colleagues and students for their full-hearted cooperation and inspiration.


1. The other kind of Solar Power, Case History, The Economist: Technology Quarterly, June 6 to 12th 2009.

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Director, CGEC International University of Business Agriculture and Technology Bangladesh

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