Govt eyes 2,000MW more power this year
While the government scored a record of signing dozens of deals for generating around 3,000 megawatt power last year, this year it aims at making another record: adding more than 2000MW electricity to the national grid.
If successful, this would increase Bangladesh’s power generation capacity by nearly 50 percent. While this would significantly reduce the ongoing power crisis, there would still be some shortfall.
Chairman of the Power Development Board (PDB) Alamgir Kabir told The Daily Star that if all goes well, the level of load shedding would be strikingly low by the end of this year.
Plus, this additional power generation would not put any pressure on the natural gas supply as most of the new power plants will operate on fuel oil, he said.
Gas has been the main source of power generation till now, and its crisis has affected power generation.
On the negative side– the country’s oil import cost is expected to shoot up significantly. When all of these new oil-based power plants would launch operation, these are expected to consume 1.9 million tonnes of diesel and heavy fuel oil a yearthus almost doubling the country’s petroleum import cost, according to an estimate of the PDB.
In addition, there had been questions of how the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) would be able to store and transport so much petroleum overnight through rail and river systems.
The PDB itself has funded a Tk 27 crore project for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority to dredge the rivers in Gopalganj and Daudkandi where poor navigability would jeopardize year-round transportation of petroleum. The other river routes will not dredging for now.
The PDB invested another TK 50 crore with the Bangladesh Railway to for upgrading some rail tracks and tank wagons that would carry the additional petroleum.
Seventy percent of the additional fuel would be transported through the river routes and the rest through the rail system.
Meanwhile the BPC is increasing its storage capacity. The BPC would also turn to the private sector to store the additional oil at times, sources said.
About half of these new power deals signed last year are rental power projects. These are short term solution with contract period not exceeding five years. The government chose these as a quick solution to minimize load shedding in the upcoming lean seasonwhen power demands will shoot high for the purpose of irrigation.
Of these rental power projects, a few have already launched operationswhile several have failed to meet deadlines.
“But we are expecting that by April, most of the rental power projects would be able to launch their operations. These will reduce the load shedding during that period,” the PDB chairman added.
By September next, the PDB expects to have several hundred megawatts of base load power generation.
By next year, the government aims at achieving zero load shedding.