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Costly power plants

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09th-Feb-2020       
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FUEL-BASED power plants with their long-overdue retirement make electricity costlier as the government continues to operate them despite claiming that power generation has a  surplus in comparison to demand. Eleven of the 13 power plants aged over 20 years are either single cycle steam turbine or combustion turbine while only two are combined cycle power plants in operation for up to 32 years. It's not so hard to understand why the authorities concerned are not interested in a more sustainable and eco-friendly power sources. Among the gas-fired power plants, 45-year-old Ghorashal plant generates a unit of power gulping fuel of Tk 1.18 while Bibiyana plant eats Tk 0.60 on fuel per unit of power. Over 13 per cent of generation -- around 2,442 MW, belongs to power plants aged above 20 years old -- the average lifetime of gas-and oil-fired plants. Nuclear and hydropower plants are more durable but Bangladesh can't generate electricity from nuclear plants yet and very little from one very old hydropower plant.
Operating power plants beyond their retirement ages is environmentally and economically damaging and serves no fruitful purposes other than facilitating corruption and helping the government show-off its capacity. Regular maintenance can keep a power plant efficient but only for a certain period of time. The Barishal power plant, 25-year old, guzzles fuel at a rate Tk 37.83  while newly built Shikalbaha power plant needs fuel of Tk 13.81 to generate a unit of electricity. In 2019, the government spent one paisa in operational and maintenance costs in producing per unit of electricity in its new power plants while the cost in aged power plants was up to Tk 1.26.
Like other machinery, old power plants also eat more but give less. These old plants also need frequent maintenance, repairing and replacement of parts after their retirement. If country's power generation is more than demand then why are the retired power plants still running?


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