Friday, 24 September, 2021
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Bangladesh scraps 10 coal power projects

Bangladesh scraps 10 coal power projects

# 17,000MW surplus electricity by 2030 even after scrapping coal-fired plants

# Some of the plants may be turned into LNG/solar plants

# Environmentalist call for phasing out all coal plants

The government has decided to scrap proposed 10 coal-fired power plants due to difficulties in mobilising funds and concerns over environmental issues.   

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently approved a summary paper in this regard, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid has confirmed.

 “We have received the approval from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on June 21 for scrapping those coal power plants,” another top official of the Power Division said.

The coal power plants were estimated to have the capacity to generate 9346 megawatts (MW) of electricity. 

One more coal-based power plant might be added to the list as the fate of the 1320MW Mirsharai coal-fired plant will be decided by a cabinet committee.

Bangladesh is increasing focusing on renewable energy as part of its efforts to offset the impact of climate change, protect the environment and reduce its carbon footprint in the short and long term.  

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the chairperson of Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and committed to strengthening climate action and adaptation efforts by enhancing the Paris Agreement, said an official concerned.

Bangladesh has assumed CVF presidency for 2020-22 for the second time after its successful tenure as CVF president in 2011-13.

Despite scrapping the coal power plant projects, the government has also decided to convert some of those power plants into LNG and renewable ones.

The government is expecting to generate at least 10,000MW of electricity from coal-fired plants by 2030.

However, the scrapping of those proposed plants will not have any significant impact on the country’s overall electricity generation capacity.  

The scrapped coal-fired projects include three proposed plants in the private sector, four in the public sector and three joint-venture projects.

The projects are Munshiganj 522MW project in Dhaka and two 282MW projects (Dhaka and Chattogram) owned by Orion Group, 1320MW Moheskhali Plant, 1320MW Ashuganj plant in Patuakhali, 1200MW Uttarbanga Super Thermal Power Plant in Gaibandha and 1200MW phase-2 Matarbari Power Plant in the public sector, a 700MW Singapore-Bangladesh joint-venture plant, 1200MW CPGCL- Sumitomo Corporation joint-venture plant and a proposed 1320MW Bangladesh-Malaysia joint-venture project.   

Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) said “It is a great initiative to achieve the sustainable developments goal and expedite green recovery.”

He also thanked the government, adding that the government should also take a roadmap to phase out the rest of the coal-fired plants.     

 “We have demanded to scrap all the coal-fired plants as like as other countries,” he said.   

 Bangladesh will produce 17,000 megawatts of surplus electricity by 2030 even after the scrapping of some coal-fired plants.

Power Division informed Prime Minister’s Office about this in the summary paper on the 13 proposed coal-fired plants.

It said the electricity generation will reach 48,878MW by 2030 whereas the contribution from the coal-fired plants will be around 13,959MW.

 “If the government scraps some coal-fired plants, the part of electricity generation from coal-fired plants will shrink to 26 per cent from the existing 30 per cent,” said an official.

Some public power plants from the proposed coal plants will be converted to LNG-based plants of renewable ones if approved by the PMO.

 “We have sought decision of such 13 public, private and joint venture power projects from the PMO,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.       

Earlier, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said the government has a plan to scrap nine of the coal-fired plants.

Now, the coal-fired plants can generate only 8 per cent of 21,060MW grid electricity, according to the BPDB report released in May 2021.

Besides, the gas-fired plants have a capacity to generate 52 per cent of electricity from grid generation.

Earlier, the government has taken 17 coal-fired power projects to generate around 17,000 megawatts of electricity by 2030.

Of them, the implementation work of only four power plants including 1320MW joint venture plant, 1200MW Matarbari plant, 1320MW Payra plant and two private-sector plants in Chattogram and Barisal is underway. 

In February 2021, the Power Division sent a proposal to PMO, seeking policy level decision on 13 coal-fired power plants.

After a month, the PMO has sent back a proposal to scrap 13 coal-fired projects and sought clarification about the existing ratio of electricity generation from the coal-fired plants after scrapping the proposed plants, said an official.

It also sought a review of the regional grid balance.

According to the official sources, Nasrul Hamid sought to scrap the projects as pressures mounted on funding for implementing the projects.

Group of Seven (G7) nations, along with several other European Union nations, have already committed to stop international financing for the coal-based power projects by the end of this year.

This is another strong step towards putting the world on a path to limit global warming to 1.5-2.0°C.

Germany-based Siemens has already asked Bangladesh to stop financing in future coal-fired power projects, said Power Division officials.

A series of studies recently warned that the adverse impacts of the existing and under-construction coal-fired power could end up causing the deaths of around 71,000 people throughout their lifespan in the next 30 years, mainly due to air pollution, toxic deposition and other environmental hazards in Bangladesh.

The studies were conducted by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) with the support of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA).

CREA conducted the studies on eight proposed coal-fired power projects in greater Chattogram in September 2020, the newly constructed Payra coal-fired thermal power project, and proposed plants in greater Barisal in May 2020 and Rampal Power Project. 

Some 16 coal-fired power plants will be responsible for the high levels of air pollution that will put the Bangladeshi population at an elevated risk from the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) General Secretary Sharif Jamil said they urged the authorities to scrap the coal-fired power projects.

Bangladesh must chalk out a transition to renewable energy in its new energy master plan towards zero-carbon goals, said the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) in its latest report.

The author of the report, an energy finance analyst, Simon Nicholas said the upcoming Integrated Energy and Electricity Master Plan (IEEMP), if aligned to the government’s new five-year plan, will abandon coal and increased LNG commitment in favour of cheaper low emission renewables.

 “Increased reliance on expensive imported coal and LNG is a burden the government simply can’t afford to wear going forward,” he added.

“Any increased reliance on coal and LNG risks seeing electricity costs for energy consumers rise even further at a time when cheaper solar and wind power is available,” according to Nicholas.

 “Abandon the expensive pipeline of coal-fired power plants yet to begin construction and limit further additions of large power plants, meaning JICA should not provide funding for the Matarbari 2 coal power proposal - this project should be amongst those cancelled,” Nicholas said.

He recommended that the plan does not replace coal power proposals with price-volatile LNG-fired power given LNG’s expense and that its full life cycle emissions are comparable to that of coal.

 “Bangladesh's five-year economic plan correctly identifies the various issues and opportunities faced by the power system. The new energy and electricity master plan being developed by Japan must now reflect this new energy reality,” said Nicholas.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group announced their exit from coal projects in April and May 2021, as did the Asian Development Bank (ADB).