The government is planning to stop providing electricity and natural gas connections to industries established outside designated areas, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said on Saturday.
“Unplanned urbanisation and industrial expansion are major obstacles to ensuring uninterrupted electricity and gas supply,” he said at a roundtable discussion organised by the daily sun at EWMGL conference room in the capital’s Bashundhara residential area.Planned residential areas like Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara have turned into commercial areas, making it difficult to assess the electricity demand, the state minister said while speaking at the discussion styled ‘Power Roadmap: Target 2021” as the chief guest.
“Industries, especially the apparel industry, should think about shifting their units to planned industrial areas,” Nasrul Hamid said, adding that from now on, power distribution companies have to be very strict about not providing electricity connections to industries outside planned industrial zones.
The government has already decided not to provide new gas connections outside export procession zones or industrial parks after December 31, 2021.
The state minister stressed the need for utilising the daylight more efficiently to ease the pressure during the peak hours of electricity demand.
“The demand is endless. Per capita power consumption is currently 500Kwh, which should be 1,200Kwh to 1,500Kwh for a middle-income country,” he said.
Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus attended the roundtable talks, sponsored by Summit Power Ltd, as the special guest while Power Cell Director General Mohammed Hossain presented the keynote paper.The discussion was chaired by daily sun Editor Enamul Hoque Chowdhury and moderated by daily sun Executive Editor Shiabur Rahman Shihab.
Summit Power Managing Director Abdul Wadud, Rural Electrification Board (REB) Chairman Moin Uddin, Coal Power Generation Company of Bangladesh Limited Managing Director Golam Kibria, BUET professors M Tamim and Ijaz Hossain, among others, spoke at the event.
Speaking at the discussion, Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus said, “We call it load shedding when we stop power supply because of our limitation, but we are not showing any load shedding status now because we no longer have that limitation.”
“It is the difference between you (analysts) and us. There are some problems but those are not load-shedding whatsoever,” he added.
He, however, said they admit some load shedding in Rangpur and Rajshahi regions caused by low voltage following the the shutdown of Barapukuria coal-based power plant.
Dr Kaikaus said the energy efficiency of captive power plants is 80 per cent, which is only 56 in case of regular power plants. “It is our policy to allow captive power because of this efficiency.”
There is a criticism that quick rental power would make the country bankrupt, he said, adding “But in reality, the country saw an overwhelming development in the last 10 years because of that kind of power generation.”
He said affordability is no longer an issue though power tariff was hiked on eight occasions in last 10 years. “I personally think that people are happily paying the increased tariff as their first priority is accessibility; not affordability,” he said.
M Tamim, a professor and the head of the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Engineering Department of BUET, said, “There is availability but we have problems in accessibility.”
He said in 2008-09 fiscal year, 85 per cent of the country’s electricity was generated from gas which has come down to 58 per cent now. “32 per cent electricity is being produced using fuel oil, which is the key concern now,” he noted.
M Tamim said mobilising funds for costly LNG import will be a major challenge as the government targets to import 4 billion cubic feet of LNG per day by 2023-24 at a cost of around $15 billion per year.
Professor Dr Ijaz Hossain of the Department of Chemical Engineering, BUET, said although the government has made huge development in power generation and power penetration, the progress has not become sustainable and the policy has flaws.
The government has not fixed any concrete plan on the captive power generation till now, he said, adding that the rising LNG price will affect power tariff in future.
In his keynote paper, Power Cell Director General Mohammed Hossain noted that as a result of timely and dynamic moves of the government, annual power generation growth of the country is now 10.2 per cent while the total generation capacity has reached 20,000MW from only 3,268MW in 2009.
Electricity coverage is 92 per cent in the country now, which was just 47 per cent in 2009, he said, adding that the government is very close to meeting its 24,000MW electricity generation target by 2021 as the total generation capacity is now 20,000MW.
The country will see a demand for 30,000MW in 2030 and the government is targeting to produce 40,000MW of electricity by then, according to the paper.
The demand for power in Bangladesh could reach 48,000MW in 2041 and the production target has been fixed at 60,000MW by that year, the Power Cell director general said.
Speaking at the discussion, Summit Power Limited Managing Director Abdul Wadud said, “Had the government not included the private sector in power generation, it would not have been able to ensure 92 per cent electricity coverage in the country.”
He advised the government to privatise the transmission and distribution services to facilitate smooth and cost-effective supply of electricity.
Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (REB) Chairman Moin Uddin said REB covers 80 per cent of the rural population. He said the country’s electricity coverage has reached 92 per cent, meaning that only 34 lakh customers remain out of the electricity coverage.
“REB connected 39 lakh customers to the grid in last one year, which was a milestone. In the last three years, REB provided electricity connection to 1.12 crore people,” he said.
Coal Power Generation Company of Bangladesh Limited Managing Director Golam Kibria said the unit-1 of the Matarbari 1200MW coal-fired plant will commission by January 2024. Besides, another unit of the plant will start producing electricity by July 2024.
He said coal transportation remains a major challenge for the coal-fired plants, adding that they will create a 14.5-kilometre waterway to facilitate smooth transpiration of coal.
“We are hopeful of completing the Matarbari deep seaport channel by 2022,” Golam Kibria said.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Senior Vice-President Faruque Hassan said garment exports were $11 billion when Awami League took office in 2009.
“RMG exports have already crossed $30 billion. The apparel sector is enjoining the advantage of a rise in electricity generation,” he said.
Faruque Hassan, also the managing director of Giant Group, said the private sector can install more energy-efficient machinery as being installed by the garment factories.
Bangladesh Pratidin Executive Editor Peer Habibur Rahman said rural areas are also enjoying uninterrupted power supply. He stressed the need for introducing smart prepaid meters in the rural areas like the urban areas.
News24 Executive Director Hasnain Khorshed termed the tremendous development in power sector an encouraging and positive sign for the country and its people. The authorities will have to anticipate the future demand of electricity and make plans according to increase power generation, he said.
Thanking the dignitaries for their participation in the roundtable, daily sun Editor Enamul Hoque Chowdhury said the country’s power sector has seen tremendous progress under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The premier made the power sector a priority after assuming office in 2009 as she could realise the importance of the sector in the country’s development, the daily sun editor said.
He lauded the role of state minister Nasrul Hamid in transforming the country’s power sector as per the government’s power sector roadmap.