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Dhaka Tribune


Cox’s Bazar to generate 60MW from wind energy by December

Wind energy is cleaner and cheaper than LNG-, coal- and fuel oil-based power plants

Update : 07 Aug 2022, 08:21 AM

Bangladesh’s power generation from large- and medium-scale wind-run power plants will increase manifold by December next year, as construction works on some of the large projects initiated in the last couple of years are expected to end within the deadline.

While the government plans to implement a dozen wind power projects to generate around 350MW in the next few years, Cox’s Bazar is likely to see the country’s largest plant producing 60MW electricity by December this year. 

The country now produces over 890MW from renewable sources – a meager 2.9MW from wind energy, and the rest from solar parks and the country’s lone hydropower plant at Kaptai in Rangamati – or 3.5% of the total capacity of over 25,500MW, according to Sustainable And Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda).

The daily production, however, ranges from 12,000-14,000MW due to the ongoing fuel crisis and maintenance issues. As of July 23, only 186MW was added to the national grid from solar plants and 127MW from the Kaptai plant, according to Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) website. However, as per the Load Dispatch Centre's daily report, solar energy's contribution was 231MW at the evening peak.

Earlier, the government had set a target of generating 1,152MW by 2021 from wind energy and 40% of total electricity from renewable sources by 2040. 

Last year, Bangladesh failed to meet its commitment to using renewable energy for 10% of its total generating capacity as the initiatives were not consistent with the target.

Since 1996, the government and the private sector have widely promoted solar power– starting with the introduction of solar home systems (SHS) to mega solar parks. But a lack of data on wind mapping and velocity hindered efforts to boost power generation from the no-fuel source.

As wind energy projects are cheaper and cleaner than the LNG-, coal- and furnace/diesel oil-run power plants, Bangladesh and many governments across the globe have been working to phase out fossil fuel-run plants.

Hence, the share of wind-driven electricity rose from 4% in 2010 to 10% in 2021. This is further set to rise to 15% by 2030.

Largest project in Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh’s 2.9MW comes from three small wind farms run by the government – two 1MW plants at Kutubdia of Cox’s Bazar and another at Sonagazi of Feni. 

Now, the government is working to implement a dozen wind power projects across the country to generate around 350MW. By the end of December 2023, the country will be able to produce around 180-240MW of electricity from wind-driven plants – a sharp rise from the current production.

Two sets of the 22 wind turbines reached Chittagong Port recently Courtesy

Of the plants, one project – with a total generation capacity of 60MW on a Build, Own and Operate (BOO) basis – is likely to be completed by December this year, said Project Manager Engr Mukit Alam Khan. 

As many as 22 turbines, each of 110-metre height, will be installed in four unions of Cox’s Bazar Sadar Upazila to generate electricity. 

US-DK Green Energy (BD) Ltd is implementing the $116.51-million project, funded by Wuling Power Corporation Limited – a subsidiary of the Chinese State Power Investment Corporation Limited (SPIC). The Chinese firm Envision Energy Ltd is manufacturing the turbines, two sets of which have already arrived at Chittagong Port.

Work on the project began in May last year with concrete poured on the pile foundation of the booster station. Currently, the construction of the turbine bases is underway. 

Work on the base and pillar of a windmill is underway at a project site Courtesy

The BPDB will purchase electricity from the company at $0.12 per unit for 18 years. Under the contract, the plant is set to start commercial operations in December. 

“Once it is completed, we’ll have an installed capacity of 66MW. The produced electricity will be transmitted to the national grid via Jheelonja Substation,” Project Manager Mukit said.

“Since it’ll be the very first and the biggest wind power plant in Bangladesh and situated in Cox’s Bazar, the project sites will become tourist attractions,” he added.

It is the SPIC's first wind power project in South Asia. The SPIC has completed renewable energy power generation of more than 100,000MW, ranking first in the world.

Upon operation, the electricity generation capacity of the project will reach 145,600MW annually. It can reduce coal consumption by 44,600 tons, and cut emissions of 109,200 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 25.15 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and 50.69 tons of nitric oxide (NO) every year, project officials say.

Envision Energy is implementing another wind power plant (55MW) in Mongla of Bagerhat, with SQ Trading and Engineering of Bangladesh, and Envision Renewable Energy of Hong Kong. The project is expected to be completed by November next year.

Cox’s Bazar: Hotspot for wind power

More than a decade ago, the government invited tenders for a 100MW offshore wind power plant but it did not get any response due to lack of data.

As per a 2018 survey by the US-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), at least nine locations in the country have an average wind speed of 5-6 metre per second at a height of over 60-80 metres. 

The study report states that Bangladesh can generate 33,000MW of wind energy using some 20,000 square kilometres of land where the wind speed is 5.75-7.75 metre per second. 

Following this, the government took initiatives to invite local and international private firms to set up large-scale wind power plants.

Work on the base and pillar of a windmill is underway at a project site Courtesy

The government recently awarded the contract for a 50MW wind power plant at Inani beach of Cox’s Bazar to another private company through an unsolicited bid.

Apart from the ongoing projects in Cox’s Bazar and Mongla, a 100MW wind power project is likely to be implemented in Maheshkhali of Cox’s Bazar after the completion of the construction of an embankment at the site of the Matarbari coal-based power plant.

On the other hand, a consortium of Bhagwati products ltd (India), Regen Powertech Private Ltd (India) and Siddhant Wind Energy Pvt Ltd is constructing a 30MW windmill plant at Sonagazi of Feni. It is likely to be commissioned late next year.

Other wind-based projects being considered by the government will be set up in Chandpur (50MW), Kalapara of Patuakhali (10MW) and Sirajganj (2MW).

Cost is a critical issue

Currently, the cost of electricity from the Kaptai hydropower plant is Tk0.15, while wind and solar power are between Tk8 and Tk12 per unit, according to government sources.

On the other hand, the cost is around Tk12 for furnace oil-based plants, above Tk40 if diesel is used and Tk39 for LNG-fired units.

The price hike of LNG and fuel oils in the global market is hampering power generation in Bangladesh, where half of the plants are run by locally-produced natural gas and imported LNG, and one-fourth by furnace oil and diesel.

As a precaution, the government has taken different austerity measures to reduce electricity consumption and cut imports.

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