Dependence on expensive fuel oil-fired power plants is set to shot up during coming Boro season as the government plans to generate up to 5,900MW power from fuel oil-fired plants which was 3,400MW during the previous season.
The state-run Power Development Board would be able to generate up to 10,500MW power during Boro irrigation season spanning from January to May, said officials, adding that some 56 per cent of the generation capacity would be from liquid fuel-fired power plants installed in public and private sectors.
At an inter-ministry meeting held on Wednesday, the power board placed demands for 679,000 tonnes of diesel and 800,000 tonnes of furnace oil to feed the fuel oil-fired power plants during Boro irrigation season, the board chairman Khaled Mahmud told after the meeting at energy division, Bangladesh Secretariat.
He said that the dependence on fuel oil-fired power plants would be increased mainly due to shortage of supply of natural gas.
The Rural Electrification Board chairman Moin Uddin told the meeting, chaired by the prime minister’s energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, that the demand for electricity in the country’s rural areas would be approximately 6,000MW which was 5,200MW in the previous irrigation season.
When asked about the increasing cost of power generation, the power board chairman said that the cost of electricity generation, even using expensive fuel oil-fired plants, was much less than the cost of ‘no electricity.’
Citing the grounds for increasing power generation costs due to growing dependence on fuel oil-fired power plants, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission raised the average retail price of electricity by 81.91 per cent, up from Tk 3.76 per kilowatt-hour or unit to Tk 6.84, in nine phases between March 2010 and December 2017.
Now the country’s available power generation capacity is 13,147MW, of which fuel oil-fired plants’ combined power generation capacity stands at 3,900MW, according to the power board’s daily generation reports.
Of the total power generation capacity, the gas-fired power plants with 8,161MW available capacity need up to 1,841 million cubic feet of natural gas while they get only 920 mmcfd, according to the reports of Petrobangla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation.
The power board chairman said that the dependence on liquid fuel would decrease significantly if they got gas supplies at a rate of 1,300 mmcfd or more.
He said that the issue of gas supply capacity against demand at the power stations would be settled at a separate meeting, yet to be scheduled.
Khaled said that railway and shipping ministry officials assured of facilitating transportation of fuel oils from Chittagong to the North-Bengal smoothly.
Petrobangla supplies 2,677 mmcfd gas against demand for at least 3,700 mmcfd, hampering power generation and industrial productions as well as cooking at nearly half of three million households.
Officials said that Petrobangla would be able to increase gas supplies by 500 mmcfd from imported Liquefied Natural Gas from May 2018 as the US firm Excelerate Energy would build LNG storage and re-gasification facilities on Moheshkhali Island, Cox’s Bazar, by then.