Friday, 24 March, 2023

Brace for increased demand for power

Brace for increased demand for power

Demand for electricity in the country during the summer increases for obvious reasons; but a front page story of this daily gives us a dull picture about the likely power generation scenario.

Under the impact of global warming, summer days are continuously getting hotter, very often to unbearable level in this hot and humid subtropical country. Naturally, people cannot but use electric fans almost all day long. And with increasing purchasing power, a growing number of people is also using air conditioners to make life easier. All these lead to increased demand for electricity during the entire summer season.

In Bangladesh, summer months beginning from February is also the season for cultivation of the main cereal crop Boro, which meets half of the year’s total demand for rice. These are also the months when rainfall is the lowest. It is because of this that Boro cultivation in the country is heavily dependent on irrigation by electric pumps. This also increases the demand for electricity. To meet this increased demand for power, the country will require around 16,000MW of electricity daily during the entire period of Boro cultivation.

Private sector power producers, having a total generation capacity of 6,000MW, play a significant role in meeting the increased demand for power. But for some reasons, they are now in a position to use less than half of their combined capacity. Private sector producers cannot import requisite quantity of furnace oil as they are receiving only an insignificant portion of foreign exchange needed for the import. Inordinate delay in LC opening is another reason for less utilisation of their generation capacity. The outstanding electricity bills to the tune of over Tk.277 billion are also reported to have pushed several small power producers into bankruptcy.

Against this backdrop of low power generation, load shedding appears to be looming large for the coming summer days. This will not only make people suffer in scorching heat but also lead to disruption of irrigation and industrial production. To manage things during short supply of electricity, the government prioritises food and agriculture over power generation; but the cause and effect relations is that food production cannot be ensured without adequate supply of electricity. It is time authorities adopted appropriate policies in earnest for solving the impending crisis.