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Dhaka Tribune

Tawfiq-e-Elahi: Electricity can also be taken on-call basis like Uber services

Prime Minister's energy advisor made the remarks at a webinar titled “Rental, Quick Rental Power Plant, Past, Present and Future"

Update : 28 Sep 2021, 09:14 PM

Power purchase contracts with rental and quick rental power plants could be done and extended on-call basis like that of Uber, Prime Minister's Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury has said.

“Rental and quick rental plants are our national assets. We can take their service on-call basis,” he said while addressing a webinar, titled “Rental, Quick Rental Power Plant, Past, Present and Future”, organized by Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB), on Tuesday. 

The energy advisor’s comments came amid huge criticisms against the most costly electricity the government has been purchasing for a long time from the private sector.

The plants were set up on an unsolicited basis as part of the government’s strategy to find a quick solution to the nagging power crisis that prevailed over a decade back.

Despite the surplus, generation of more than 4,000 megawatts (MW) in the power system, many of the rental and quick rental plants are still in operation following the extension of their contracts with the government on a number of occasions.

Defending the rental and quick rental’s continuous operation, Tawfiq-e-Elahi said these plants become essential sometimes because of the volatility in the global fuel market.

Also Read - PM Hasina to people: Don’t waste electricity

“We have to switch from one fuel to another for power generation due to this volatility. Now the price of fuel is rising on the global market,” he said, adding that per unit LNG is being imported now at $28-29 which was between $7-8 a few months back.      

The online seminar, chaired by FERB Chairman Arun Karmakar, was also addressed by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) Chairman Belayet Hossain, Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Director (research) Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA) President Imran Karim, Director Navidul Haque and BPDB Member Delwar Hossain.

Former director general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Mustafa K Mujeri made the keynote presentation on the topic. In his presentation, Mujeri said per unit cost differs between individual quick rentals and IPPs at different plant factors.  

For gas, the per unit cost varies between Tk4.75 to Tk5.39 for quick rental plants, while the range is Tk1.40 to Tk3.80 for independent power producers (IPPs).

Also Read - 50MW solar power plant to be set up in Khulna

The variations occur due to differences in fuel cost as well as fixed and variable operation and maintenance costs.

For furnace oil, the per unit cost is between Tk15.21 and Tk15.30 for QRPPs while the cost varies between Tk16.27 and Tk16.70 for IPPs, he said.  

Dr Khandoker Golam Moazzem said the country now has to pay huge money to the owners of the private plant operators due to wrong planning in power generation that leads to surplus generation.  

Defending the existence of surplus power generation, BPDB Chairman Belayet Hossain said Bangladesh power system needs at least 40% surplus generation.

Currently, the BPDB generates 14,000 MW power against its total generation capacity of 24,000 MW which is very much justified to keep the system running.    

Imran Karim said the country now can utilize a maximum of 82% of its capacity to generate electricity while 18% of capacity remained unused.

Navidul Haque said: “No power, no payment” could be a very economical option for contracts in the power sector.

If such a contract prevails in application, the government does not need to be worried about power supply in the peak hours, he added.

Director General of Power Cell Mohammad Hossain said now the reserve margin is only 22% and there is no surplus electricity in the country.

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