6th July 2019
Mollah Amzad Hossain

The development of power system is passing through a serious uncertainty as it is taking place without following any master plan at this moment. A serious confusion has been created over the power generation target and fuel mix for 2030 and 2041. No Power System Master Plan (PSMP) is being followed now. Advice has been sought from the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also in charge of the power and energy ministry, by placing before her three different options. These are JICA prepared PSMP 2016, recommendations of Mahbub Alam Committee for revisiting the PSMP and opinion of power cell on the recommendation of Mahbub Alam Committee. The three reports differ in power demand projection and target for generation in 2030 and 2041.

 

The Power Cell as prescribed in the PSMP 2010 has suggested a generation target of 39,000 MW by 2030 while the Mahbub committee recommended it to be 53,200 MW and the JICA prepared PSMP 2016 prescribed it to be 31,100 MW. The JICA prepared PSMP suggested for achieving a generation of 57,000 MW, providing for reserve margin. Revisiting the PSMP, the Mahbub committee suggested a generation target of 79,500 MW by 2041. In JICA report, the prescribed fuel mix shown as 35% from coal, 35% from gas and LNG, 12% from nuclear power, 16% from cross border trading and 1% each from liquid fuel and hydro power. The Mahbub committee has given greater emphasis on LNG and gas. According to their recommendation, the fuel mix for achieving their suggested power generation target in 2041 is LNG and natural gas 43%, coal 32%, power import 15%, nuclear 7%, liquid fuel 2% and hydro 1%.

 

Table Showing fuel mix, projected power demand and planned generation target (2030 & 2041) according to PSMP 2016 and PSMP Revisit Committee

 

Fuel Mix

PSMP 2016 (%)

PSMP Revisit Committee (%)

Coal

35

32

Gas and LNG

35

43

Nuclear

12

 07

Power Import

16

15

Hydro

 01

01

Liquid Fuel

 01

02

Estimated Demand 2030

28,000MW

48,000MW

Estimated Demand 2041

51,000 MW

72,500 MW

Estimated Generation Capacity 2030

31,100MW

53,200MW

Estimated Generation Capacity 2041

57,000MW

79,500MW

 

The draft PSMP 2016 estimated demand in 2030 and 2041 at 28,000 MW and 51,000 MW respectively. Against that they prescribed for achieving generation capacity of 31,100 MW and 57,000 MW respectively. On the other hand, the Power Cell with reference to PSMP suggested limiting the generation capacity to 39,000 MW in 2030 against a projected demand of 35,000 MW. The JICA draft PSMP 2016 suggested planning a generation capacity of 57,000 MW in 2041 against a projected demand of 51,000 MW. On the other hand, the Mahbub committee recommended achieving 79,500 MW capacity against their estimated demand of 72,500 in 2041.

 

In response to a question about which PSMP they are following for system development, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) Chairman Engr. Khaled Mahmud said: “WE are still proceeding with the plan for reaching the target of 60,000 MW capacity by 2041. Plans are never fixed and firm. The PSMP document also suggested reviewing the plan every two years. The matter comes under comprehensive review after every five years.” Responding to another question, he said he was not aware whether the draft PSMP 2016 and the recommendation of PSMP review committee have been sent to the Prime Minister for approval.

 

Discussions with the officials at the Power Cell and different entities of BPDB suggest that a committee, headed by former additional secretary of power Mahbubul Alam, was constituted for revisiting the PSMP 2016. The committee spent two years to review the PSMP. During this time, the committee gathered information about projected demands in 2030 and 2041 from all power distribution utilities. DESA, DESCO and BREB have been asked about their projected demand in 2041. The committee’s recommendation for 72,500 MW of projected demand in 2041 is a reflection of that. Relevant sources on condition of anonymity observed that though the primary information were given from distribution utilities, the power demand recommended for 2041 has not been made with logical analysis and without taking into account when the higher growth of power demand will get flattening out. These made the recommendation of power generation target and projected demand for 2041 by the PSMP review committee way ambitious. Some people connected with the review termed it unrealistic.

 

The review of existing demand curve also evidences that such a high projection is unrealistic. The present generation capacity of grid connected power is 18,329 MW. Maximum generation achieved so far was 12,500 MW. Of course, BPDB could not generate higher capacity for gas supply constraint. The commencement of RLNG supply has started improving the situation. But due to fuel crisis as well as transmission and distribution constraints, maximum generation in 2019 may not go beyond 13,000 MW. Industries are reluctant to take supply from the grid as this is not that reliable yet. Rather the industries use 2,800 MW of captive power. The tendency in power market over the past decade shows diminishing growth of demand in industries as compared to growth in domestic demand. The power division is getting increasingly worried about it. They are holding discussion with the trade bodies to motivate them to access to the grid power. Getting new connections to industries is being made free of hustle. The distribution companies are trying to encourage users through improving their services. A big chunk of generation capacity achieved through huge investment is remaining idle. This adds to the cost of generation.

 

The government’s vision for providing access of power to all by 2021 would be achieved in 2019. Provision for supplying renewable energy is being made in some off grid areas. About uninterrupted quality supply of power, the distribution companies tell about their ongoing efforts, without committing any firm target. DPDC, DESCO, WZPDCO, NESCO have made notable advancement, but BREB and PBSs are lagging behind. The BPDB’s distribution segment is also weak. Some distribution companies may achieve uninterrupted power supply capability in three years, but it would not be possible for all before 2025. The transmission system is also not ready to supply power to all distribution companies as per their demand. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid while talking to the EP also expressed his frustration about the performance of the transmission and distribution companies in ensuring uninterrupted power supply.

 

It has become essential to review and determine the reliable projected demand of power in 2021, 2025 and 2030 by international energy experts. It must be reviewed and assessed realistically the extent of growth of industry on the backdrop of primary fuel supply crisis, soaring energy price post-LNG import, higher price of land and high rate of bank interest. It needs to judge how the service sector of the country would expand. BEZA has initiated actions for developing 100 special economic zones. Projected power demand must be estimated taking into account the time all the SEZs come into operation, their power demand, the primary fuel demand and price of fuel and power to them.

 

While talking to the EP, Director of Power Cell Engr. Mohammad Hossain mentioned about their strong disagreement with the recommendation by the PSMP revisit committee. He thought that the power demand projection and suggested generation target are highly ambitious. We have reviewed these in true perspective and prepared our own recommendations about generation by 2030. Our recommendation is proceeding with 39,000 MW generation target for 2030. We did not make any projection for 2041.

 

Energy expert and Professor of Chemical Engineering Department of BUET Dr Ijaz Hossain told the EP that the power system development now is not following any PSMP. It is depending on our diplomacy and source of fund. The power demand during high summer of 2019 has not crossed 12,500 MW. It does not appear that by 2030 it will grow beyond 25,000 MW. I do not think it would be wise making any projection up to 2041 right now. We have to take into account when the power demand growth would flatten and start diminishing. But I support recommendation of the PSMP revisiting committee for stressing upon LNG and gas for fuel mix. The cost of generation with imported coal will not be that economic. It will be far better going for higher efficiency gas-fired power generation than relying too much on dirty coal.

 

If we review the power and energy sector development over the past decade in retrospect, many contradictions will come in view. The PSMP 2010 focused on economic utilization of own coal for power generation. It was suggested to achieve a generation target of 40,000 MW by 2030. To achieve 50% of this target, 30% contribution was suggested for coming from local coal. Around 30% was planned to come from own gas and imported LNG and the reaming 20% was suggested to come from Nuclear, imported power and others. The government chose to ignore suggestions of PSMP 2010.

 

The Awami League government, after assuming state power in 2009, started working on short, medium and long term planning in the power sector for confronting and overcoming diabolic power crisis. The PSMP 2010 was formulated and adopted later. But the government showed no interest to follow it. Rather the government gradually inclined towards imported fuel. In 2014, the government started revising the PSMP 2010 with JICA assistance. The indication of the government for not exploring own coal had led it to an imported fuel dependent plan. The draft PSMP 2016, for achieving power generation capacity of 2041, suggested a fuel mix of 35% contribution of coal (34% imported) and 35% from gas and LNG.  Some 12% suggested for nuclear and 16% from power import. But without following it, the government went ahead and signed agreements for new power plants one after another. Instead of approving the PSMP 2016, the government went for revisiting it. The PSMP 2016 suggested achieving 57,000 MW generation capacity in 2041.

 

The committee after revisiting the PSMP recommended 79,500 MW generation capacity in 2041. It also changed the fuel mix as suggested in the PSMP 2016. The suggested fuel mix is 43% gas and LNG, 32% coal, 15% power import and 7% nuclear power. Sector relevant experts believe this to be highly ambitious and prepared without valid justifications.

 

Whatever is done in increasing power generation, it is sad that the PSMP that was prepared by spending a lot of money and efforts is not followed. The PSMP 2016 has neither been approved nor followed. Rather the Power Division has created new controversy in the name of revisiting the PSMP and coming up with a debatable set of recommendations. Experts observed that a fresh PSMP must be prepared now by engaging internationally accredited consultant in a fair manner. Exploration and exploitation of own coal and own gas must be given highest priority. There must be clear indication how much renewable energy would contribute. The power sector development must follow a properly formulated Power System Master Plan.

  


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