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Bangladesh needs cheaper power generation models

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 21 June, 2021 12:00 AM
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Bangladesh needs cheaper power generation models

Bangladesh has to look for cheaper but less polluting models for green power generation in future instead of costly models of developed nations now in a transition to green energy, energy expert Dr M Tamim said on Sunday.

 “Green development or zero carbon emission won’t be an easy task for us,” he said at a virtual dialogue of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on budgetary steps on power sector.

 “The development models before us are polluting models which are successful. We can’t knowingly accept those polluting models, but at the same time we can’t afford to follow the reverse models of developed countries,” he added.

The World Bank and developed nations are trying to impose the models on the country which it won’t be able to implement economically, technically or management-wise, he observed.

Instead, Bangladesh should get support from the development partners how to lower the polluting practices, which should be “low hanging fruit and involves minimum investment and contextually appropriate technology,” according to him.  

In his keynote presentation, CPD’s Research Director, Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem cited overcapacity of power generation and sought a policy shift to focus more on renewable energy.

 “The success of the power sector needs new narrative which should focus on efficiency, better pricing, low carbon emission power generation and improvement of transmission and distribution,” Dr Moazzem said.

The sector continued relying on fossil-fuel based power generation and related transmission and distribution as its case of achievement, he said, adding that the success needs to be examined from efficiency and reform points of view.

The national budget for FY2022 has little reflection of the context of changing national and global perspectives with regard to addressing climate vulnerability particularly through clean energy and green growth in case of power generation, he observed.

Dr M Tamim, however, argued that Bangladesh has still scope of fossil-fuel based power generation, citing that per-capita carbon emission of US is 15 tonnes and that of European countries hovers from 8-10 tonnes whereas Bangladesh’s carbon emission is only 0.5 tonne.

The former adviser to the caretaker government also doesn’t support the notion that the country has excess power generation capacity now, saying that excess capacity only exists in papers and the ground reality is different. 

He said the excess installed grid power generation capacity won’t be more than 18,000MW if the idle or retiring power plants are taken into account.

He pointed out that the excess capacity will be only 15-20 percent or 3,000MW to 4,000MW, which is not a problem.

He also termed the government’s 100 electricity coverage through grid power a “wrong policy.” He suggested that the target should have been 95 percent and the rest should have been covered by mini grids of renewable energy.

CPD said higher budgetary allocation mainly has gone to distribution related carryover projects, which portrays inefficiency in project implementation.

The power sector should be made competitive- thus all types of bidding should be held under ‘open bidding’ system maintaining transparency. In this context ‘Speedy Supply of Power and Energy Act’ should be discontinued immediately, it suggested.

CPD’s Chairman, Prof Rehman Sobhan questioned why many power plants are still operating which should have been retired by now. He also stressed on identifying how much of the excess capacity has attributed to distribution failure.

Agreeing with Dr Tamim, Imran Karim, president, Bangladesh Independent Power Producers’ Association (BIPPA) recommended that Bangladesh should have the capacity to toggle between various fuels to reduce energy generation cost.  Mohammad Hossain, Director General, Power Cell, Power Division, stated that the government is committed to reduce carbon emission and there are efforts to phase out coal energy. “Quick rental power plants will be gradually phased out,” he said. Mohammad Alauddin, Chairman  SREDA, Power Division, said that there is a need to look for renewable energy beyond solar and wind energy for which more research is required.

Engr DM Majibor Rahman, President, Solar Mini-Grid Association alleged that distribution lines of BPDB and BREB in same area is a major source of power misuse. As a solution to this, he suggested distributing divisions between them. Asif Ashraf, Director, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and managing director, Urmi Group called for tax incentives to businesses that generate solar energy.

Mahmood Malik, Executive Director and CEO, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) opined that rooftop solar energy can be a good source renewable energy in Bangladesh, which can be used beyond industrial purpose.

Chairing the event, Dr Fahmida Khatun said quality of energy needs to be ensured, while uninterrupted power supply is crucial, otherwise production cost and efficiency of industries will be hampered.