Siemens to discontinue coal-fired plants

Rampal plant won’t be affected

Shamim Jahangir

8 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Siemens to discontinue coal-fired plants

Siemens Bangladesh Ltd has announced that it will no longer support coal-fired power plant projects in Bangladesh.

 “We will discontinue the support to new coal-fired power plants and will cease offering components for such projects,” Prabal Bose, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Siemens Bangladesh, informed Bangladesh Power and Energy ministry in a letter. 

Despite withdrawing investment from the future coal-fired power plants, it said, “As your reliable business partner, we will of course honour all existing commitments to customers in connection with coal-fired power projects like Rampal 1320MW Ultra Supercritical Thermal Power Plant.”  

The German company’s existing commitments include a mega coal-fired power project jointly implemented by state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Indian state-owned National Thermal Power Company Ltd.

Companies like Toshiba and GE have already announced to discontinue coal-based power plants.

Bangladesh also is taking the same move to scrap the previous plans for electricity generation from coal-fired power plants.

The government scrapped six coal-fired power plants projects taken up in 2017. The authorities concerned also sought a decision from the prime minister's office (PMO) to take a final decision regarding 13 more coal power plants.

PMO sought clarification about the existing ratio of electricity generation from coal-fired plants, an official said.

“We are preparing a draft for the PMO,” BPDB chairman Balayet Hossain said.

He, however, said the BPDB will not face any hurdle due to Siemens’s decision to discontune future coal-fired plants as the government has a plan to trim coal-fired plants from its plans.

Bangladesh Power Division is planning to convert the proposed state-owned coal-fired projects into plants based on LNG or renewable energy, officials said.

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

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, “While publishing the report, we have called upon the authorities to scrap the coal-fired power projects for saving lives."

“It is really unprecedented and unaccepted to take up coal-fired power plants when the whole world gave up on it due to environmental pollution,” he added.

He said the government should review the power system master plan as the country now produces surplus electricity.

The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) registered a record landmark 13,018 megawatt (MW) of electricity production last Saturday against the installed capacity of 21,778MW. 

The Japanese prime minister as well as the US president also made the same move to come down electricity generation from coal-fired one as Japan want to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Continue our C02-reducing service, solutions and replacement business that minimise the adverse effects of coal-fired power generation,” Prabal Bose, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Siemens Bangladesh Ltd said to Bangladesh Power Ministry. 

Siemens Energy will continue developing and supplying its high energy efficient, low C02 emitter energy technologies like Gas Turbines, Gas based Combined Cycle Power Plants, digital plant control system to enhance overall power plant energy efficiency, it said. 

 “We are confident that this is the right stance for a company like Siemens Energy, and we hope that you understand and support our decision,” the CEO also said.

The world's coal-fired power plants churn out around ten gigatons of CO2 annually, making them one of the largest emitters of CO2. “Therefore, the journey to decarbonization must start here.”

We do acknowledge, however, that until it will possible to completely replace all fossil fuels with renewable energies, the world will continue to rely on those to a certain extent, he said.

 “We are already a driving force advancing the decarbonization of energy system. More than 50 per cent of our portfolio is already decarbonized.”