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Plan for Uber model to buy electricity

  • Special Correspondent
  • 29 September, 2021 12:00 AM
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Plan for Uber model to buy electricity

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The government will purchase electricity from the duration-expired rental and quick rental power projects applying the Uber model, said Prime Minister’s energy adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.

While addressing a webinar as the chief guest on Thursday, he said the plan aims to deal with the fuel market volatility in the country’s electricity generation.

The Uber app is available in thousands of cities worldwide and one can request a ride even when they’re far from home.

Like the Uber app, the government also plans to purchase electricity from rental and quick rental power plants as required to meet local demand of electricity using the model, the adviser said.

 “We are moving to Uber model in purchasing electricity from rental and quick rental power plants as the government is facing difficulties to produce electricity due to volatile fuel market, including of coal and LNG,” said Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.

The Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) organised the webinar styled as “Rental-Quick Rental Power Projects: Past, Present and Future” in association with Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA).

The LNG import cost reached over $28-$29 per mmbtu whereas the fuel tariff rose to $80 per barrel from only $20 a year back, the PM energy adviser said.

“The market volatility of petroleum fuel pushes us to switch to produce electricity from the least-cost option of fuel,” he said.

“China has already experienced the electricity shortage due to increasing growth of electricity demand. We want to be ready to meet the electricity demand of our special economic zones,” he said.

The government has a plan to discourage the industrial consumers for using captive power as the BPDB works to supply uninterrupted electricity, the adviser said.

He favoured the extension of the rental and quick rental power plants and said maintaining the peak load of electricity is impossible without 500MW-600MW in grid.

Dr Elahi said the profitability of electricity is not the goal of the government and the focus is on choosing the least-cost option for generating electricity. Institute of Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) executive director Dr Mustafa Kamal Mujeri presented the keynote paper. The session was chaired by FERB chairman Arun Karmaker.    

The webinar was also attended by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) chairman Balayet Hossain, Power Cell director general Mohammed Hossain, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) research director Dr Khandaker Golam Moazzem, BPDB member Md Mahbubur Rahman, BIPPA president Imran Karim and vice president Navidul Huq.

FERB executive director Md Shamim Jahangir moderated the discussion.

Dr Mustafa Kamal Mujeri said, the strategic use of existing rentals/quick rentals is needed.

“One option could be to explore the costs and benefits of using the ‘viable’ plants for a longer period instead of shutting them down after the expiry of the present contract period,” he said.

The possibility of converting viable plants into gas-based plants (with some additional investment) could also be explored as liquid fuel entails high generation cost in the long term, he said.

BPDB chairman Balayet Hossain said the BPDB could not able to produce 4000MW of electricity in different periods due to natural gas crisis.

“We sometimes received only 700 mmcfd of gas against the requirement of 1400 mmcfd of natural gas to produce 8000 MW of electricity,” he said.

Power Cell director general said the rental and quick rental power plants have contributed Tk38.30 lakh crore in the economy between 2010-2016.

BPDB member Md Mahbubur Rahman said the government has taken the 17 rental and quick rental power projects to overcome the crisis of 2000MW of electricity.

“Now, six rental power plants produce 274MW of electricity and five quick rental power plants by 395MW.”     

CPD research director Dr Khandaker Golam Moazzem said the government should scrap the rental and quick rental power plants and introduce competitive bidding “as the over-capacity in power sector is 41.8 percent.”