The power sector is an integral part of the country’s economic growth and sustainable development. There are two types of power plants based on existence such as onshore and offshore or floating power plants. Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) started its operation with installed generation capacity of only 200 MW in the year 1972. Now, installed generation capacity including captive power (as on December, 2017) is 16,046 MW. In the Power System Master Plan (PSMP) - 2010 demand forecast was made based on 7 per cent GDP growth rate. The desirable economic growth rate would be about 7 per cent p.a. Based upon this study the peak demand would be about 10,283 MW in FY2015, 17,304 MW in FY2020, 25,199 MW in 2025 and 33,708MW in FY 2030 with the aim to provide quality and reliable electricity to all the people of country for desired economic and social development. The power system has been expanded to keep pace with the fast growing demand. The main challenge is to manage land for power projects.
Land acquisition has a major role to play besides selecting a particular place for power project. The following list covers most of the factors that should be studied and considered in selection of proper sites for power plant construction: Supply of Fuel, Geology and Soil Type, Availability of Water, Availability of Land, Transportation Facilities, Nearness to Load Centres and Distance from Populated Areas. Floating or offshore power plants can solve few of these problems easily.On the other hand, some basic criteria of site selection of coal based power plants are as follows: Locations of thermal power stations are avoided within 25 km of the outer periphery of the following - metropolitan cities, national park and wildlife sanctuaries, ecologically sensitive areas like tropical forest, biosphere reserve, important lake and coastal areas rich in coral formation. The sites should be chosen in such a way that chimneys of the power plants do not fall within the approach funnel of the runway of the nearest airport. Those sites should be chosen which are at least 500m away from the flood plain of river system. Location of the sites are avoided in the vicinity (say 10km) of places of archaeological, historical, cultural/religious/tourist importance and defence installations. Prime agriculture lands are avoided for setting up of thermal power houses or ash disposal. Land requirement for large capacity power plant is about 0:2 square km per 100 MW for the main power house only excluding land for water reservoir (required if any). The land for housing is taken as 0:4 square km per project. Land requirement for ash pond is about 0:2 square km per 100MW considering 50 per cent of ash utilisation.
In our country, it is very difficult to get proper land for installation of power plant and there are many islands with limited or, more often, no access to the power grids in the mainland. This situation is especially noticeable in countries like Japan, Indonesia or the Philippines, where the offshore territories cannot be connected with subsea cables. In these areas, floating power plants come in.
The design of floating power plants allows for easy transport and positioning in remote areas on rivers, oceans or places where land-based options aren’t viable, for example, China has announced that the government will be sending a fleet of nuclear floating power plants to provide energy for remote islands and oil rigs by 2020. Japan’s Chiyoda Corporation has done by converting their extra LNG carriers into floating electrical generating stations. This affords the company savings on construction and shortens delivery time while providing a capacity of 70 MW to 400 MW. Such mobility allows for it to be deployed anywhere in the world especially areas, experiencing power shortages due to natural disasters or underdeveloped infrastructure. The world's largest 230MW HFO fired ship-based power plant is installed in Pakistan in 2010 to ease the country's chronic energy shortages. Russia has begun towing the first of its new floating nuclear power plants in 2018, the Akademik Lomonosov, to Murmansk, where it will receive the nuclear fuel for its two reactors.
Generating power offshore can also be an environmentally-friendly solution where electricity-starved islands tend to use diesel generators that release harmful emissions to the air. Floating power plants have the capability to generate electricity utilising solar, wind and tidal power as well as LNG, which burns much cleaner than any other fossil fuel. Although, sometimes these plants are run on diesel too, but with the growing concern for the environment and the negative impact of harmful fuel emissions it is gradually becoming a rarity. Not to mention, from the consumer point of view, LNG power ships make electricity cheaper by 1/3 than conventional diesel generators, according to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Public opinion could be more amenable towards LNG floating power plants that are more efficient in generating electricity.
Indeed, floating LNG power generation solutions are gaining traction around the world. For instance, the Chinese Wison Offshore & Marine Company is developing LNG loading and storage facilities, re-gasification and power generation in a single unit to generate power supply. The capacity from the smallest to the largest plants ranges from 10 MW to 800 MW. This puts LNG in the limelight even more with other companies like Wärtsilä, MAN Diesel & Turbo, Siemens and Sevan Marine investing in the development of floating power plants.
The government has a massive power expansion plan which requires massive area of land to set onshore power plants. Majority of the quick rental or IPPS are set-up on agricultural land. The awarded lives of quick rental power plants are 5 to 15 years. The progress of coal and nuclear projects are not good due to land accusation and managing funds. In-between government is awarding numbers of onshore quick rental power plants based on diesel and HFO fuel to ease the instant electricity crises which need huge land to set-up. Floating power plants are the best option to minimise the use of agricultural land although three floating power plants are available in Bangladesh, those are run for a period of more than 15 years such as NEPC since 1999, KPCL since1998. Benefits of barge-mounted or floating power plants are clearly distinguished from these projects. The government should focus on floating project considering its benefits, due to the nature of the power plants’ floating foundations, the need for available sites for building traditional energy sources is eliminated. Floating power plants also have the advantage of easy implementation and cost saving because it’s possible to reuse existing ships for this purpose, cutting out the need for additional construction. This is independent of soil quality and secure power supply in the event of earth quakes or floods, even we can easily replace by another new one after expired life of floating plant easily. On the other hand, agriculture land is declining over the years; it’s about 8.3 per cent in survey 2000 and 2010 (SRDI, MoA) due to industrialisation, housing, brick kiln, power plants etc. It sounds good if we can save at least one per cent land out of 8.3 per cent by using floating power plants.
The writer is the Deputy General Manager in MJL Bangladesh Limited. Email: Shahin.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.