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Energy: Hope and reality

  • Published at 04:21 pm September 11th, 2013
Energy: Hope and reality

The national energy demand, due to the pace of economic development, is increasing day by day. Due to an overall shortage of electricity, the demands of the industry cannot be fruitfully met.

The Awami League, through their last electoral manifesto, were committed to increasing power production, and developing gas and coal reserves for building up Bangladesh into a middle income country. But there is a distinction between hope, tale, and reality.

Rental and quick rental

From their first day in the office, the government has increased the number of rental power plants. It has issued 45 rental power plants licenses to different businesses, some of whom have no experience in this field.

This approach has been criticised by power sector specialists. Many countries take rental power plants as a provisional solution, but in the longer term, rental is not a feasible solution and does not help the economy. The government says only rental and quick rental power plants can add 3,000 megawatts to the national grid within the shortest time.

Nuclear power generation

In 1996 when AL was in power, the government considered proposals to set up a nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna but no physical steps were taken. In the current tenure, there has been more discussions, seminars, symposiums and bilateral talks. The prime minister has visited Russia to make several agreements, but to date, no physical work has been undertaken yet.

Coal

Bangladesh has 100bn tonnes of natural coal reserves in north-western districts of Dinajpur, Rongpur and Naogaon, equivalent to a 79TCF gas reserve. But coal is not yet extractable due to a lack of proper coal policy or strategy. A TEC (technical experts committee) has advised the government on the coal policy, but no decision has been confirmed yet.

Nobody knows when one will be finalised! There is a gap between the ruling party’s manifesto, its commitments and reality.

Gas

The outlook for the country’s natural gas reserves is not positive. Remaining gas reserves will perish by 2020. If significant gas reserves are not discovered, it could be a terrible scenario for the country.

Recently Bapex scientists discovered the Srikail gas field, also a part of the Bangura structure, but this field has small reserves.

Presently the government has a deal with the Russian company Gazprom for drilling 10 development wells in existing fields. Petrobangla expects and hopes to update after completion of these exploration holes.

Power production, then, is a big challenge. One important approach that needs consideration is the expedition work on making the grid smarter through better monitoring and new technology.

Developing a smart-grid

Bangladesh only has a national load dispatch centre and a distribution load dispatch centre which is not working properly. One pilot project has been undertaken to introduce some pre-paid meters.

A smart-grid can help increase efficiency by combining electrical power systems with modern information technology using computer-based remote control and automation.

Smart-grids are used to manage electricity networks – from power plants all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses.

For a century, utility companies have been sending out workers to gather data needed for providing electricity. Workers read meters and look for broken equipment. Through atomation, this can be done in a significantly less time with significantly increased reliability.

Load-shedding could be reduced with better and fairer electricity distribution. Business profits would increase as power from the grid would always be available at their premises.

Experts estimate that up to 40% of the current electricity generation capacity is not used properly or is wasted; this loss could be saved by introducing a smarter grid.

We have to fix our future electricity transmission and distribution system. The smart grid will be supportive to national energy policy targets, improve reliability, employee safety, and energy security. All consumers and industries would benefit from enhanced power quality and reliability. So it is essential to install smart-grids to improve the electric supply infrastructure.