The government plans to use LNG and petroleum or other modern fuels to generate power
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given the green light to a proposal to scrap projects related to 10 coal-fired power plants, which had been approved earlier, officials said.
These plants are among the 26 the government had last year announced would be reviewed because of environmental concerns and a widening gap between overall power generation capacity and demand.
The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources had proposed scrapping the projects as the construction work made no progress over the years.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Saturday, State Minister Nasrul Hamid said: “It has been decided to scrap the 10 coal-fired power plants okayed earlier.
“Now we are planning to use LNG [liquefied natural gas] and petroleum or other modern fuels to generate power.”
It has not, however, been finalized as to how this shift will take place.
"Our current plan is to generate between 10,000 megawatts (MW) and 12,000MW of electricity from coal by 2030," the state minister added.
At an event last year, Hamid had said that the government’s target was to generate five gigawatts (GW) electricity from 29 coal-based projects.
The 10 scrapped projects include a 522MW plant in Munshiganj, 282MW plant in Dhaka, 282MW in Chittagong, 1,320MW in Moheskhali, 1,320MW in Ashuganj, a 700MW Singapore-Bangladesh joint-venture, a 1,200MW CPGCL-Sumitomo Corporation joint-venture, and a 1,320MW Bangladesh-Malaysia joint-venture.
On the other hand, construction work on five coal-fired power plants will continue.
Among them, one unit of the 1,320MW power plant at Payra, Patuakhali, is already producing electricity and construction is underway for the 1,320MW plant in Rampal, 1,224MW in Chittagong, 307MW in Barguna, and 1,200MW in Matarbari, and 1,200MW in Cox's Bazar.
Apart from the Payra unit, two other coal-fuelled plants are currently in operation in Bangladesh. One of them is the 525MW plant in Barapukuria, Dinajpur, and the other is a Bangladesh-China joint venture 1,244MW plant.
Environment rights group Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon on Saturday welcomed the government’s latest decision to scrap the 10 projects, saying it was a big step towards achieving the sustainable development goals.
In a statement, it demanded that the government sketch a road map toward doing away with all coal-based projects in phases.
Anu Mohammad, the member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, also told Dhaka Tribune: “Those projects were planned in the first place with the persuasion of some very curious people from both in and outside the government. They were never feasible due to the scarcity of lands, our natural habitat and declining global interest towards coal-based power plants.”
“But the plants that are still in hand pose the biggest risk of environmental degradation and allover downfall of human lives. The government should come to their senses and cancel them immediately. The international financiers of these projects will never implement them in their own country.
"India and China are using Bangladesh as a scrapyard to dump their coal. A group of people are endangering our future to serve their own interest,” he added.
According to the state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), the installed capacity of the country’s total electricity generation stands at 22,023MW (excluding captive power).
Currently, there are 149 power plants. Of them, 71 plants are run either by heavy fuel oil (HFO) or high-speed diesel (HSD), 67 by gas, seven by solar power coal, and three by coal. Just one of the plants generates hydropower.
Seven of the plants have already gone into retirement as shown in BPDB data of June 22.
The government runs 57 of the plants, while just one is a joint venture. The highest number of plants, 71, belong to the independent power producers (IPP).
Bangladesh currently imports 1,160MW power from India.
Additional reporting by Md Saidun Nabi