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Dhaka Tribune

Payra power plant unit 1 starts commercial operation

Covid-19 delaying launch of 2nd unit

Update : 15 May 2020, 11:12 AM

Some four months after it began a trial run, the first unit of the much-hyped 1,320MW Payra Thermal Power Plant has started commercial supply of electricity to the national grid. This is the biggest thermal power plant in the country.

It started on Thursday afternoon when the first unit of the coal-fired power plant added 660MW of electricity to the national electricity network, said officials concerned.

The power plant becomes the second of its kind in the country after the 525MW Barapukuria plant in Dinajpur.

Shah Abdul Moula, director of the Payra power plant, told reporters they went into commercial operation around 5:30pm on Thursday, soon after the test run of the plant ended.

"From now on, the plant is supplying 660MW power to the national grid," he said.

The first 660MW generation capacity unit started operating on a trial basis on January 13.

The second unit with the same generation capacity is likely to take more time to start operating due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Although, officials earlier told Dhaka Tribune in January that the plant was likely to start supplying to the national network this month.

Moula went on to say: "Only around 1,500 workers, against 4,000, are currently working for the second unit of the plant…it is likely to fail to start operating even in June."  

Located in Dhankhali of Kalapara upazila in Patuakhali, the power plant started supplying electricity to the national grid over the 163km double-circuit high-voltage transmission line, connecting the newly built 400/230kV grid substation in Muksudpur upazila of Gopalganj to Patuakhali Sadar upazila.

The Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited (BCPCL), a special joint venture of Bangladesh's state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL) and China's state-owned China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), has been constructing the power plant involving about $2 billion as part of an understanding between Dhaka and Beijing.

On March 19, 2015, a deal was signed between NWPGCL and CMC to set up the Payra power plant.  

Concerns about coal-fired power plants

Bangladesh may be hit by its own "carbon bomb" once its 30 coal-based power plants, including the aforementioned one, go fully operational by 2031, suggested a study launched on November 6, 2019. 

The projects will put the country in a "trade deficit" because they will cost an estimated $2 billion or over Tk170 billion annually in coal imports, according to study estimates.

The report also warned that Bangladesh will release an additional 115 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually into the atmosphere, once all 30 power plants begin to operate simultaneously.

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