Electricity sector in Bangladesh
Bangladesh's energy infrastructure is quite small, insufficient and poorly managed. The per capita energy consumption in Bangladesh is one of the lowest (321 kWH) in the world. Noncommercial energy sources, such as wood fuel, animal waste, and crop residues, are estimated to account for over half of the country's energy consumption. Bangladesh has small reserves of oil and coal, but very large natural gas resources. Commercial energy consumption is mostly natural gas (around 66%), followed by oil, hydropower and coal.
Electricity is the major source of power for most of the country's economic activities. Bangladesh's installed electric generation capacity was 10289 MW in January, 2014; only three-fourth of which is considered to be ‘available’. Only 62% of the population has access to electricity with a per capita availability of 321 kWh per annum. Problems in the Bangladesh's electric power sector include corruption in administration, high system losses, delays in completion of new plants, low plant efficiencies, erratic power supply, electricity theft, blackouts, and shortages of funds for power plant maintenance. Overall, the country's generation plants have been unable to meet system demand over the past decade.
On November 2, 2014, electricity was restored after a day-long nationwide blackout. A transmission line from India had failed, which "led to a cascade of failures throughout the national power grid," and criticism of "old grid infrastructure and poor management." However, in a recent root-cause analysis report the investing team has clarified that fault was actually due to Lack in electricity management & poor Transmission & Distribution health infrastructure that caused the blackout.
Sources of energy
As of 2011, 79 natural gas wells are present in the 23 operational gas fields which produce over 2000 millions of cubic feet of gas per day (MMCFD). It is well short of over 2500 MMCFD that is demanded, a number which is growing by around 7% each year. In fact, more than three-quarters of the nation’s commercial energy demand is being met by natural gas. This influential sector caters for around 40% of the power plant feedstock, 17% of industries, 15% captive power, 11% for domestic and household usage, another 11% for fertilizers, 5% in Compressed natural gas (CNG) activities and 1% for commercial and agricultural uses.
CNG is substituting more that USD 0.8 billion worth of foreign exchange annually and is also used in most vehicles on the road. In addition to CNG, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is also demanded at around 0.1 million tons. The nation furthermore demands 3.5 million tons of oil imports in addition to almost 2 million tons of diesel to feed oil-based power plants being planned and built all around the country. The additional petroleum and coal imports are causing a disruption in the GDP by as much as 2% annually. The new purchases are affecting improvement initiatives in other sectors causing reduced export earnings and curtailing employment opportunities. This massive failure in the energy sector is mostly attributed to prolonged negligence, inappropriate implementation, inefficiency and lack of planning. To make matters worse, natural gas reserves are expected to expire by 2020. The only coal mine of the country is in the development stage, the reserve of which is also expected to dry up anywhere from 75 to 80 years after the start of their operations.
Efforts to develop an open-pit coal mine in Phulbari, Dinajpur District, have met with large, violent protests in 2006 because of feared environmental effects, and six people were killed and hundreds injured. At the time, the government closed the project, for which it was working with Asia Energy (now Global Coal Resources). It was encouraged in December 2009 to re-open it by the United States ambassador in private communication. In October 2010 protesters make a week-long march from Phulbari to Dhaka against the mine; a coalition of other groups protested at a Global Coal Resources meeting in London.
Bangladesh has 15 MW solar energy capacity through rural households and 1.9 MW wind power in Kutubdia and Feni. Bangladesh has planned to produce 5% of total power generation by 2015 & 10% by 2020 from renewable energy sources like air, waste & solar energy.
The Ministry of Power and Energy has been mobilising Tk 40,000 crore ($5.88 billion) to generate 5,000 MW of electricity to reduce load shedding into a tolerable level within next four and half years during the term of the present government. Under the plan, the Power Development Board (PDB) would produce 500 MW gas-fired electricity between July and December 2009 to over come load shedding within December. The PDB would hire furnace-oil based 1,000MW of electricity from private sector from January to June 2010, the plan said. In 2011, the government would install furnace-oil based 800 MW capacity of power plant. The PDB officials would seek suitable place to establish the plant, a senior official of the PDB said. Besides the government would also hire another diesel- or furnace oil-based power plant having capacity of 700 MW in 2012 to keep load shedding into mild level, the official said. However, the government also contemplates to establish four coal-fired-based power plants with capacity of producing 500 MW of electricity each with public and private partnership (PPP) in Rajshahi and Chittagong region. The government has initially tried to create fund of Tk 6,000 crore ($1 billion) to implement the plan, sources said. The power division has tried to utilise the government's budgetary allocation of Tk. 2000 crore for PPP in this regard, sources added. "If we can create the fund of Tk. 6,000 crore, it would be possible also to mobilise Tk 40,000 crore under ppp to produce 5,000 MW of electricity within four and half years," PDB chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir told the New Nation on 29 June 2009. During the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina permitted the power division to implement the PDB plan to reduce load shedding up to a tolerable level. Prime Minister's Adviser for Power and Energy Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Bir Bikram, State Minister for Power and Energy Shamsul Haque Tuku, Power Division Secretary Md Abul Kalam, PDB Chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir were present.
Inefficiencies and infrastructure
A 2014 news report stated that:
Bangladesh is considered one of the most arousing energy growth nations. More than a third of Bangladesh's 166 million people still have no access to electricity, while the country often is able to produce only some of its 11,500-megawatt generation capacity.
In generating and distributing electricity, the failure to adequately manage the load leads to extensive load shedding which results in severe disruption in the industrial production and other economic activities. A recent survey reveals that power outages result in a loss of industrial output worth $1 billion a year which reduces the GDP growth by about half a percentage point in Bangladesh. A major hurdle in efficiently delivering power is caused by the inefficient distribution system. It is estimated that the total transmission and distribution losses in Bangladesh amount to one-third of the total generation, the value of which is equal to US $247 million per year.
In 2011, there were proposals to upgrade the grid technologies to digital smart metering systems and investing in renewable energy technologies to produce 5% of total power generation by 2015 & 10% by 2020, as noted in the National Renewable Energy Policy of 2008. American engineer Sanwar Sunny said that the city should put more effort in zoning areas to encourage more self-reliant subdivisions and higher density housing around subways in order to be more sustainable, as during peak times load shedding would not affect everyone. It will reduce effects of power cuts and provide stability to the power sector. He proposed that Radio transmitters could be operating remotely in unlicensed radio bands using two way real time communication and transmit coded instructions from the central to the circuit breakers in selected coordinates of the micro grids substations thereby maintain multiple power flow lines with automated control and digital metering. Using this technology, Feed-in tariffs (FIT) would also be possible, as the energy usage could be monitored remotely and private power generation and energy efficient entities could be offered rebates and incentives. “This will also expedite investments in this sector, create job opportunities for engineering graduates and technicians, and ease pressures on the government" he said. Think tanks such as Bangladesh Solar Energy Society and Renewable Energy Institute (REI), along with European International Development Government Agencies such as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit supported this scheme. However, The Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Government of Bangladesh has said that the government has no plans to do so.
Nuclear power plant
Bangladesh plans to set up the 2,000 MW power plant, the Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant at Rooppur, Pabna district 200 km (120 mi) northwest of the capital Dhaka, by 2018. Planned to go into operation by 2020, it will be the country's first nuclear power plant.
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- Sunny 2011, p. 136
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- Faisal Mahmud (August 20, 2011). "Experts for microgrids to ease power woes". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
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