Dhaka, Dec 12 (bdnews24.com) – The government is planning to shift to coal as fuel for power generation by setting up seven coal-based plants with a total output of 4,000MW by 2014.
Six of these plants being planned by the Power Development Board (PDB) to be owned by private entrepreneurs would generate the larger chunk of the targeted output. Only one plant would be state-run.
"We are evaluating coal as the chief source after 2014 to ensure energy security. We shall be using coal extracted in our country while option for imports of coal would stay open to fuel these plants," PDB chief A S M Alamgir Kabir told bdnews24.com
"As there are debates over the method of extracting the country's coal, we are thinking about initially importing the fuel needed for these plants."
Currently natural gas fuels 82 percent of the power generated in the country, furnace oil fuels five percent, diesel another seven percent, water and coal make up for a total six percent. Generating power by using gas, many experts say, is a luxury for a nation like Bangladesh.
The only state foray in this plan includes setting up another unit at Barapukuria adding 250MW to the existing 250MW output capacity.
A preliminary survey to this end has already been completed, he added. Coal from the Barapukuria mine is being used to run the existing two units.
Of the other six power plants, three would be installed in Chittagong: a 1,300MW-plant at Anwara, a 150MW-plant at Jaldi and another 300MW-plant along the coast.
The three others are a 300MW-plant at Munshiganj's Mawa, a 150MW-plant at Khulna's Labonchhara and a 1,300MW-plant at Bagerhat's Mongla.
The government has already held preliminary talks with China to set up the plant at Anwara. The PDB chief visited China for 8 days earlier this month along with power ministry and PDB officials.
"We have talked with state-run Huadian Corporation over the matter. We are expecting a visit from Chinese officials soon where we will sign a memorandum of understanding [MoU]," Kabir added.
He expects to have the plant up and feeding the grid by 2016.
The government has already signed a MoU with India's state-run National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) regarding the plant at Mongla on Aug 30.
Nearly 750 hectares of land has already been acquired jointly by the PDB and NTPC near the Mongla seaport.
However, locals and environmentalists have been demonstrating against setting up the plant fearing that it would adversely affect the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.
Letters of Intent have already been issued to private entrepreneurs for the plants at Jaldi, Mawa and Labonchhara while the process is on to issue one for the plant to be built on the coast, the PDB chief added.
Currently the nation's daily power demand of 7,000MW exceeds daily production by nearly 2,000MW.
The incumbent government targeted to hike power generation to 15,000MW within 2016 immediately after taking over.
Deals have already been struck to set up 48 power plants to meet the target, of which, 17 are quick rental plants, three are rental, 10 are independent power producers and 18 are state-run.
As a result, around 2,500MW have been added to the national grid over the last three years, of which, 1581MW is generation by 20 plants set up in this tenure and 825MW comes from power plants agreed on during the previous caretaker government.