Environment should have the priority in considering power plants

21 November 2020

THE Power Division will soon seek suggestions from the Prime Minister about the fate of under-construction and proposed 23 coal-fired power plant projects. The widening gap between the country's overall electricity generation capacity and demand has prompted the government to review the status of such plants and take necessary decision in this regard. From environmental perspective, the government must suspend the coal fired plants and opt sustainable solutions.
According to statistics, on November 18, 2020 such power plants produced the peak 9,429 MW combined, which are less than half of the country's overall electricity generation capacity of around 20,383 MW. Among the 23 coal-fired power plant projects, three plants - two at Barapukuria having a total capacity of 525 MW, and one 1,320 MW capacity plant of Bangladesh China Power Company Ltd, or BCPCL, at Payra are already implemented. Seven government, private and joint venture coal-fired power plants are at under-construction phase. The construction work on 13 coal-fired power plants is yet to start.  
The government is also considering revisiting the Power System Master Plan within a couple of years. Power Division is not willing to give permission now to set up new power plants unabatedly, considering that the existing plants are enough to meet the demand for power at least for next one decade. The country's electricity demand would be around 29,619MW by 2030 with the efficient use of energy. The existing PSMP projected the power demand at 40,000 MW by 2030.
If the government continues to award approval to new power plants, the volume of surplus electricity would be enormous, for which extra payment would also have to be made. If all the power plants, now in the pipeline, come on line, some 30,000 MW of electricity would be available with the national grid by 2030.
Separately, the government has also started considering export of electricity to neighbouring India to utilise the surplus electricity. The Joint Steering Committee of the two countries already discussed the issue last year to strengthen bilateral electricity trades in future. The transformation from a power deficient country to a power surplus country, the government must have appreciation but it takes high toll of environment.

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