More power on stream, much more required


Published on May 11, 2010 on bdnews24.com

A coal-fired power plant

The 55 MW gas-fired rental power plant at Ashuganj is set for a formal launch on Wednesday, but the power-starved national grid needs many more to cope with the ever-increasing demand.

After it was commissioned on Apr 7, the country’s total ‘installed’ capacity rose to 5,928 megawatt (MW), according to the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).

This figure however contrasts with the ‘actual’ capacity of the power stations which, taking into account efficiency loss, is 5,377 MW.

Furthermore, due to lack of fuel availability, the power stations usually can only produce about 4,000 MW daily. On Monday, the figure was only 3,748 MW.

With this rental plant, 15 plants, together with a generation capacity of 571 MW, have started commercial operations during the current government’s tenure.

However, most of these plants – including this 55 MW Ashuganj plant — were not initiated during the Awami League tenure, but during the term of the military-backed interim regime.

This is the 49th power plant in Bangladesh – 38 of which are gas-run, six run on diesel, three by furnace oil and one by coal (at Barapukuria).

The 230 MW Kaptai power plant is the country’s only hydro-electric (on Karnaphuli River) project.

The new plant’s production of 55 MW corresponds to the daily average demand of Barisal and surrounding four districts.

Precision Energy Limited (PEL) owns the new 55 MW plant – known as an independent power producer (IPP) — from which, the state-run power agency will buy electricity on a three-year contract.

Construction of the plant, established on one acre, owned by the Ashuganj Power Station Company Limited (APSCL), began on June 1, 2009.

The new gas-fired station will only be able to produce 55 MW of power if Titas Gas provides it with its daily demand of around 10mcf (million cubic feet).

If it is given this satisfactory gas supply, other gas-powered plants are likely to suffer as a result.

On Monday, three plants failed to produce 333 MW due to the nagging gas shortage.

The gas shortfall was reduced after an emergency decision, taken on Mar 30, to suspend gas supplies to five fertiliser factories and diverting it to the gas-fired plants.

This helped increase power generation by between 200 and 300 MW, which helped with powering the irrigation plants in rural areas.

On Saturday, the power generation significantly reduced by 650MW due to the forced closure of two large power generation units—the 450 MW Meghnaghat plant and the fifth unit (200MW) of Ghorashal plant.

DEADLINES MISSED

The initiative to build the Ashuganj plant was undertaken during the caretaker government in 2008, when the contractor company, which had no previous record of setting up such a plant, agreed to construct it within three months and to start on Oct 27, 2008.

However, Precision Energy Limited missed that deadline and subsequently, two others set by the BPDB – one on Mar 31, 2009 and the other on Dec 31, 2009.

BPDB will pay the contractor around Tk 3 for every unit of power it produces.

The power agency sells electricity at between Tk 2.6 and Tk 5.65 to its residential consumers, between Tk 4.05 and Tk 8.45 for commercial premises and between Tk 3.92 and Tk 6.82 for the heavy industries sector.

Meanwhile, BPDB’s bulk price for the distributing companies is set between Tk 2.05 and 2.39 for every unit of electricity.

MORE TO COME

According to the latest papers of the PDB, an additional 792 MW may be added to the national grid by the end of this year – raising the total installed capacity to 6,720 MW.

In addition, the incumbent government wants to add more than 920 MW in 2011, 2,269 MW in 2012, 1,675 MW in 2013, 1,770 MW in 2014 and 2,600 MW in 2015. That makes a total of 9,234 MW.

The total installed capacity will then increase to 15,954 MW.

The national grid currently covers 47 percent of the population.

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