Only 965 MW of installed capacity was added to the country’s power grid this year against an ambitious target of 3,519 MW
Be it in a developed or an emerging economy, Covid-19 has not spared any sector. Bangladesh's booming power sector which is usually resilient, is also reeling under its debilitating impact.
The country barely met one-third of its electricity generation target this year, according to an official document of the state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
As per the document, in possession with UNB, only 965 MW of installed capacity was added to the country’s power grid this year against an ambitious target of 3,519 MW -- some 2,465 MW from the private sector and the remaining from the public sector.
According to available statistics, the country’s installed capacity was 19,630 MW on January 1, 2020, while it reached 20,595 MW on December 28 the same year.
This year's growth in installed capacity is half compared with 2019, when 1,945 MW was added to the grid between January and December. Last year, the country’s installed capacity increased to 19,630 MW from 17,685 MW.
Power Ministry officials attributed this downward growth to the impact of Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown that had hit field-level work. "The power sector’s activities were substantially impacted by the pandemic," Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain said at a webinar recently.
Statistics show that a total of six new generation units commenced operations in 2020 to add some 11,27 MW of installed capacity to the national grid, while five small generation units went to retirement by decreasing the capacity.
The units that increased the installed generation capacity in 2020 are 225 MW combined cycle plant in Sylhet, 100 MW Unit-2 of Julda Acorn power (private) plant, 622 MW Unit-1 of Payra Coal-fired Bangladesh-China (Joint Venture) Power Plant, 104 MW Meghnaghat Orion Power (private) Plant, 50 MW Sutiyakhali-Mymensingh Solar (private) Power Plant, and 162 MW Manikganj (private) power plant.
On the other hand, the retired power plants are 32 MW Haripur GT2, Bheramara 20 MW GT2, 20 MW Bheramara GT3, 20 MW Barisal GT1 and 20 MW Barisal GT2.
Sources at the Power Division said another 622 MW electricity might be added to the national grid within a day or two as the second unit of the Payra Coal-fired power plant is ready for commercial operation. “The plant has been conducting test runs," said a top official of BPDB.
Officials of the Power Division, however, want to go slow with the existing power generation plan as the country’s electricity demands have not increased to match with generation growth. Currently, the country consumes 12,000-13,000 MW of electricity during the peak season of summer while the demand comes down to 8,800 MW in peak winter.
BPDB statistics show the country’s maximum power demand was recorded at 8,843 MW, including at power stations and consumers' end, leaving a surplus of more than 50% on the generation front.