The World is going through one of the toughest times in history perhaps after WWII, as energy and food prices are skyrocketing all over the world. Bangladesh is no different, a country still not self-reliant on energy fuels, and is also struggling to produce electricity as per demand. The manufacturing industry, especially the textile and apparel industry, which are the lifeline of Bangladesh’s economy is hit hard by the power cuts in recent times. REB is unable to provide electricity to the industries as per demand. In such a situation one company seems relieved as they have taken measures for such an unfavorable situation way ahead. This is another session of Textile Focus Industry Associate story tales you about the exceptional renewable energy initiative by Robintex group and their experience.
Robintex, one of the largest companies in the textile and apparel sector of Bangladesh operating since 1996 is a great example of implementing a solar energy project in their factory. The factory is situated at Vulta, Narayanganj about 15KM to the east of Dhaka, just by the highway that connects the Capital City with the country’s international Port City, Chittagong. It’s a joint venture company between Germany and Bangladesh that exports to the major export destinations of the country. It produces 1 lakh pcs of different types of knit products in its factory every day. The factory premises is a serene place with lush greenery and ample open space. The company opted for most of the environmental protection measures and is regarded as one of the most compliant textile factories in the country. It is a vertically integrated factory with knitting, dyeing, printing, and sewing plants on the same premises. It also has a modern digital printing section which is another state-of-the-art inclusion of the factory.
The Solar Energy Project
The total power demand in the Robintex factory is around 6.0 MWh, among which more than 50%, 3.2MWH is generated from the renewable source i.e., solar panels which is remarkable in terms of using renewable energy for total energy consumption. The solar project in this factory is the largest one in terms of capacity in the textile and apparel sector of Bangladesh outside the economic zones. The project is implemented by Joules Power Limited (JLP), a solar power company that operates the project in the OPEX model. This project generates 3.2 MWH of electricity which is equivalent to reducing 40% GHG contributing heavily to climate change mitigation.
The OPEX model is such a model that set up the two parties, the service provider (JLP in this case) and the factory (Robintex in this case) in a balanced win-win situation. The whole investment and maintenance of the solar power plant are done and carried out by JLP and Robintex purchases the power generated by the solar project. At the end of every month, Robintex receives an invoice as per the amount of power consumption from the solar source and Robintex just has to pay the bills. There is no administrative or operational burden on Robintex which makes it a really smooth and hassle-free source of energy. The concern of JLP in the factory says-“Robintex’s business is not energy generation rather they are concentrated towards manufacturing clothing, so for them, it is not possible to take care of the solar project the way we do as this is how we make the money.” As a result, the efficiency loss in this solar project is kept at a minimum which is also an industry best in the solar project arena in Bangladesh.
Benefits from the solar project are enormous and multifaceted as per Robin Razon Shakhawat, the Director of Robintex Group. In a conversation with him, he elucidated that the energy source along with the energy price in Bangladesh is not stable. So, the decision to transform from REB to a completely renewable source of energy is pivotal for being risk-free. It creates control over your energy source and costs. JLP provides energy at a price 20% lesser than the REB. So, at the end of the day, Robintex is less reliant on REB and other gas-generated captive power, costs are minimized and energy recessions don’t hit with full force. So, it’s a great benefit and any company would wish to be in such a favorable position in terms of energy and power.
Abdullah Al Masum, Vice President and H.O.D., Compliance & IE, Robintex Group, added- “the benefits from using a complete green source of energy is not only about costs. It’s obvious that it saves big money for us but the overall benefit is beyond the costs. As a green and renewable source of energy, we are contributing toward environmental conservation, reducing CO2 and GHG, and contributing towards mitigating climate change. Brands nowadays prefer factories that are environmentally friendly and it’s an indirect preference that we enjoy. So, not only our company, but the initiative is helping Bangladesh become a sustainable country in terms of industrialization and also internationally as we are reducing CO2 emission.” Overall, amid a severe energy crisis, keeping in mind the situation is not going to change in recent times, there is no alternative but to opt for renewable sources of energy. Solar power is a great source of renewable energy although the investment is high. The OPEX model can be a solution here as the service provider invests and manages all. All factories have to do is provide space and logistics support and purchase the energy from the providers, of course at a cheaper rate than REB.
Sustainability was always a preference for Robintex’s business strategy and the solar project pushed them one step ahead. This is an example that it is possible to transform from a traditional source of energy to a renewable and sustainable source of energy implemented in a Bangladesh-based textile factory. There are other factories too who are taking initiative in this regard, but Robintex is really an example We hope Bangladesh’s textile and apparel industry will emphasize more renewable sources of energy and power in the upcoming days.