Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Rampal: Big boost to power sector

At a time when the country is relishing the moment of glory after the inauguration of much anticipated and most talked about mega project - the Padma Bridge, the lead story of yesterday’s Daily Sun gives another piece of good news. Construction work of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Plant at Rampal in Bagerhat, a mega project of Tk 160 billion, is nearing end. The plant implementation authorities are hopeful of starting electricity production from Unit 1 of the plant from October 31. With the completion in construction work of each mega project that the current Awami League government has undertaken, Bangladesh moves one step closer to realising Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dream ‘Golden Bengal.’

That the construction of the power plant went ahead smoothly defying all odds posed by environmentalists as well as vested political quarters is no mean feat. After Payra power plant, Rampal is the second coal fired power plant that the government is going to launch in quick succession to revolutionise the country’s power generation sector.

If we want to push forward our growth agenda, there is no alternative to more gas and electricity. Again, had the government not opted for coal fired power plants considering their environmental consequences, it had to compromise on growth ambition. The country is in an uncomfortable situation where its limitation of energy sources is also threatening to limit its future prospects.

There is also an uneasy relationship between power and gas. Many of the power plants are gas-fuelled, which means the depleting reserve of gas is also a restriction on the future expansion of electricity generation. The policymakers are exploring alternatives, and planning to hinge the future of power plants on coal replacing gas.

Even though some experts argue that the gas reserve is going to last a few years longer than the government fears, the fact remains that the country is fast running out of this valuable resource. And, sooner or later, we are going to have to face this reality that is drawing nearer every day. Therefore, the government has to explore the alternatives to natural gas, and coal stands out as the most viable option for the short term.