The Bangladesh Power and Energy Sector management is well geared now for better managing peak power demand in the ensuing summer which incidentally coincides with the holy month of Ramadan. Senior Policy makers have announced for generating up to 10,000 MW over the peak summer days for managing increased demand. They have also plans for demand side management. The present generation is about 8500 MW. On 18 April the generation reached 9212 MW during peak hours.
The Secretary, Power Division, at a recent meeting mentioned that power distribution companies would work out and implement a plan for distribution of power available in their franchise. The present policy of shutting down shutters of shopping malls and businesses at 8 pm on Ramadan days would remain in force. Rerolling mills, welding machines and ovens must also stop using power during peak hours. All power users were advised to exercise austerity in power use, thereby facilitating uninterrupted power supply during iftar, tarabi and sehri.
Power generation will also be increased marginally by utilising a little more gas supply from Petro Bangla. Gas supply to CNG fuelling stations will remain suspended from 5 pm to 11 pm. The policy on gas supply to four of seven urea fertilizer plants has already been implemented. Holiday staggering will also be implemented. More and more LED valves are replacing the existing CFL valves.
Over the period 17-23 April 2017, owing to the first monsoon heavy rains following blistering hot days, the power system suffered from an unforeseen situation. The load curve on 18/04/2017 showed a system peak demand of 9712 MW and average of 7910MW. As against that, a couple of days of unusually heavy rain and thunderstorms brought down the corresponding situation of 21/042017 to 6362 MW (peak) and 5117 MW (average). Consequently the power system had to absorb some hiccups. Rural areas suffered from major power load shedding. Even Dhaka city experienced frequent power failures. One hardly needs to mention that the Bangladesh power system is not yet ready for a quick response in managing such unusual situations. This was a very unusual situation. Once the ongoing modernization projects of power transmission and distribution system is completed, hopefully by 2021, such situations will likely be better managed.
The other day this writer was talking to an Australian parliamentarian in Melbourne. He was curious about the power system management of Bangladesh in the wake of growing uncertainty of future energy security in Australia. Following the closure of the giant Hazelwood coal fired power plant in Victoria, the security of supply in the power supply system in Australia for the first time has become a bit uncertain. Diverting power from power surplus Victoria to Southern Australia and Tasmania may no longer be possible. Australia has not built a large new power plant for several years. The government is not planning to build any new coal fired power plant in the foreseeable future. Australia is not permitting onshore exploration of petroleum, but it is implementing a gas conservation policy.
The changed circumstances have changed perceptions. The federal MP told me Australia would encourage any foreign company building large coal fired power plants in Australia. The multibillion dollar Adani project is going to go ahead.
I mentioned to the MP that he could imagine almost the entire population of Australia living in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka only. The population of Bangladesh is about eight times that of Australia. Moreover, Bangladesh is not fortunate in the field of abundant primary fuel resources — coal, petroleum resources, uranium and all options of renewable energy, solar, wind, ocean energy, geo thermal — as Australia is. The issues and challenges are very different because of different circumstances.
Despite many issues and challenges, the power value chain has been making major achievements in Bangladesh. There is no denying that power generation system is gradually making progress. But we all know that keeping pace with the system demands an increase in the power system development, something that remains to be done. Fuel supply challenges, constraints of transmission and distribution systems have been identified. The government is moving ahead with fuel diversification options. LNG import initiatives are now at an advanced stage.
By mid to late 2019 at least 1000 MMCFD equivalent LNG is expected to be available in the national gas grid. The imported coal based Rampal power plant and NWPGCL Payra power plant may start operations by 2021. The first unit of Rooppur nuclear plant may come into operation by 2022. Actions are underway for importing more power through regional power grids. The ongoing development works of power transmission and distribution may definitely lead to a power system providing quality, reliable power supply to all by 2021 as per the national vision.