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Opinion
‘Lopsided planning delays RLNG evacuation’
Bangladesh gas franchise area in general and greater Chattogram region in particular is suffering from chronic gas crisis for over a decade. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) import on time could comfort the situation if that could be professionally implemented. But inexperience and incompetence have let is drag on for years after years. In the wake of proven gas reserve depleting government of Bangladesh launched LNG import program in 2010. The plan was to start importing LNG using floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) at Moheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar and evacuate re-gasified LNG to national gas grid through construction of Moheshkhali to Anowara 90KM 30 inches OD gas transmission pipeline. In business as usual first such project should have led to 500 MMCFD RLNG available in national gas grid by 2013. Senior policy makers of the government on several occasions assured the nation about it. All end users of the gas grid suffering from chronic gas crisis were waiting anxiously for it to happen. It is now end June 2018. FSRU is in position. LNG vessel with 500 MMCFD LNG is anchored at Moheshkhali since late April 2018. Managing Director of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL) assured media that after a weeks working on final tie in RLNG would be flowing to gas grid by the first week of May. But it has been gathered that a small section of sub-sea pipeline which FSRU owner engaged sub contractor built was found leaking. The leakage was identified late and there had been relentless struggle for remedying this defect defying inclement weather and turbulent ocean condition. Two companies of Petrobangla RPGCL and Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) are involved in LNG import and RLNG evacuation process. RPGCL manages LNG import and looks after LNG re-gasification that would be done by FSRU owner and operator. GTCL would evacuate RLNG and would receive metered gas at custody transfer metering station (CTMS) at Moheshkhali. GTCL completed Moheshkhali -Anowara 90 KM 30 Inches OD gas transmission pipeline, city gate station (CGS) at Anowara and spur line connecting Anowara CGS to Chattogram city ring main operated by Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL). In present arrangement it is possible evacuation of 200-250 MMCFD RLNG any time. GTCL off course is struggling with its 42 inches OD Anowara-Faujdarhat gas transmission pipeline without which RLNG can not fed to national gas grid and evacuation of 500 MMCFD RLNG would be delayed .Questions have been raised about competence of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) river crossing contractors competence for Karnaphuli river crossing . RPGCL in its part have so far failed to ensure its contractor Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Limited completing all upstream connections. Exceelerate is obligated to supply RLNG of desired quality and specification at the upstream of GTCL Moheshkhali CTMS. Gas transmission pipelines operated at 1000 PSIG and above are built to American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31.8 code or equivalent standard .Bangladesh gas safety rule also adopted ASME B31.8 as guiding standard. All connections of buried pipelines have to be 100% welded and radiographed. The pipeline needs to be hydrostatically tested (Leak test and tightness test) in presence of the representative of Chief Inspector of Explosives in Bangladesh. The pipeline section under reference has two flanged connections having metallic gas kits. RPGCL is definitely involved in all this process. Now the defective pipeline section delaying RLNG supply is a manifestation of incompetence and negligence of works. 500 MMCFD LNG by December 2017 or May 2018 could have comforted gas crisis significantly. Gas users would not have to suffer immensely in the last Ramadan. Economy could be extremely benefitted. This system is built for at least 25-30 years. We must not live with any defective section of the pipeline. Would recommend looking into the matter professionally and going by international and national requirements strictly. Statutory body Chief Inspector of Explosives must authenticate commissioning of the system in accordance with the provision of gas safety rule. Saleque Sufi is an eminent energy expert.
`Some observation on the transition of energy and power sector in Bangladesh`
June 14, 2018 Thursday 4:47 PM By Dr Badrul Imam
Bangladesh stands at a cross-road of major transition from a less to a more and significant energy and power developments.  Mega projects of coal based power plants, LNG facilities, related industries and deep sea port are going to transform quiet little villages and island into major power and industry hubs–thanks to the government plans.  The projection to achieve a power capacity of 24,000 MW by 2021, merely 3 years from now is indeed challenging. The wisdom of depending on 90% imported energy (coal, LNG, oil etc) and lack of effort to seriously explore the potentials of indigenous energy resources have also been questioned. There are several points which stand out in any conversation on power and energy development in the country. 1) The constructions of infrastructures of the mega projects in favor of enhancing the power generation capacity are distinctly visible, though running behind projected timeframe. The sources of energy required to run these mega projects are not yet clear in many cases. Coal use for example is one of the central theme of the present policy drive for power generation and there are projection that coal power hubs will significantly dominate the skyline line. The energy observers are pointing out there will be a demand of about 40 to 50 million tons of coal annually in immediate future when coal power plant take up major share of power generation. Compare this with only 1 million ton of coal produced annually in the country today. Yet there is no clear indication where will this coal come from and at what price? Will the infrastructure be ready to handle such large amount of coal and will there be an experience pool of man power to manage it? And how will the economic pressure of importing such large amount of coal for a very long time are contained? 2) It is reasonable that Bangladesh increases the share of coal in power generation from its present position of only 2%. However, being overly dependent on coal powered projects, mostly import based, is not the best option for Bangladesh. Too many very large coal  power plants within  limited areas in the coastal belt will degrade the environment and would not be sustainable. This may make a crowd (coal) whereby pollution level will be difficult to keep under safe limit. Certainly coal fired plant close to the Sundarban will have additional risk of damaging or even destroying the largest mangrove forest in the long run. A good way to take the coal power forward more safely and more cost effectively is to build mine mouth coal power plants in the coal mines that may be opened up in each of the existing coal fields in the north Bengal. These will make Bangladesh more self reliant and less dependent on imported coal. There is no valid reason for not developing underground mine, acknowledging the fact that open pit mine planning in Bangladesh has proved unsuitable socially and geo-hydro logically. 3) The slogan of depletion or exhaustion of gas resources in immediate or near future has been overly played. The fact that Bangladesh is the largest delta basin, part of which has been proved prolific natural gas bearing, led the geologist believe that there are significant untapped gas resources onshore and offshore areas of Bangladesh. By any standard Bangladesh is one of the least explored area in the world. A proper extensive exploration program would certainly find the significant gas specially in the offshore, enough to meet the present and near future needs. There are two sides of this argument. Firstly there are extensive area in Bangladesh that remain unexplored or underexplored yet holding good prospects. And secondly the exploration drillings in many cases in the past concluded the well dry and abandoned without being tested completely and conclusively and there are geological evidences that those could have been proved gas bearing if the tests were done completely and conclusively and using modern technology. 4) Bringing costly LNG now in limited scale to immediately meet the acute gas crisis has perhaps a logic in the sense that gas production is expected to go down shortly and the gas reserve has not been augmented by exploration and new discoveries.  But large scale LNG import over long term basis does not seem viable for Bangladesh. This is mainly for the LNG is very costly, has a volatile nature cost wise and this will eventually put negative pressure on the economy of the country. The price of gas has already gone up because of LNG import and is likely to go up many fold further pushing the industrial product as well as day to day living more costly in Bangladesh. 5) Bangladesh has a success story in developing off- grid roof top solar power known as solar home system (SHS) which has given electricity to a large number of people living in rather remote off grid area who would not have electricity otherwise. More than 4 million SHS installed domestically have uplifted the life style of these impoverished people by providing small scale power at their homes.  But in the context of national power demand and generation, the contribution of SHS is tiny, a mere 250 megawatt, which is only 2% of the total power generation capacity in the country. In fact, in the solar industry worldwide, large scale solar power generation essentially means on-grid solar (grid connected). But on-grid solar development is unfortunately slow and much below the expectation in Bangladesh. The total on-grid power at this moment is about 15 MW with only one visibly and well publicized solar park with only 3 MW capacity in Jamalpur. According to the government plan renewable sources should provide about 10% of the total power generation capacity by 2021 meaning 2400 MW power generation from renewable sources. With such low level of development it would be impractical to believe that the growth of solar power would reach anything near the projected target by 2021. To date, the government has approved proposals for establishing 19 on grid solar power park submitted by different private companies. Individually the proposed solar parks have generation capacity ranging from 5 MW to 200 MW and the cumulative power generation of all these installations would amount to 1070 MW.  Among these, only six companies have so far reached final stage of negotiations. Unfortunately none of the companies could complete construction and starts power generation till date although the deadlines have passed. From the above, it appears that the development of the on grid solar has so far failed to provide a realistic hope of achieving projected government target.  What holds Bangladesh back in developing grid-connected solar power? Realistically there are a number of reasons that are restricting expected growth of on grid solar. One of the major challenges is the difficulty of acquiring land. As per the government rule, no agricultural land can be used for solar power project. Bangladesh is a densely populated fertile agricultural land and non agricultural unused land are not easily available enough. Another drawback in developing on grid solar in Bangladesh is lack of governmental incentive. The companies which are engaged in negotiations and implementation of solar park opine that solar industry in Bangladesh is still in an immature and infant stage and requires incentives from the local authorities. A major point in this is fixing the tariff of the produced power. Bangladesh does not have an option to remain isolated when rest of the world embraces a future with smarter and cleaner renewable energy for their power. The challenges in developing renewables may be high, but it is the government which should extend its hand to help it grow in the initial stage. Dr. Badrul Imam is an energy expert and professor (retired) of Geology of Dhaka University.
Category: Opinion
`In quest of an energy justice framework for Bangladesh`
May 25, 2018 Friday 10:20 AM By Raisul Sourav
Energy Justice is a new concept that is being used in the academia around the globe over the last decade. Although there is no universal single definition, but energy justice evolved with an object to ensure universal access to a safe, affordable and sustainable energy for all individuals, across all areas and to protect from disproportionate share of costs or negative impacts relating to building, operating and maintaining electric power generation, transmission, distribution system and to ensure equitable access to benefits from each system. Nonetheless, representative and impartial involvement of the citizens with the energy related decision-making process is another crucial aspect of energy justice. However, the idea of energy justice basically comes out from the concept of social justice and environmental justice. According to earlier ideas, energy justice carries three core tenets which were popularly referred as triumvirate of tenets, focusing distributional, procedural and recognition justice whereas subsequent principle-based approach to energy justice developed eight core principles: 1. the availability principle urges to have sufficient modern energy resources; 2. the affordability principle argues that all people, including the poor, should get energy in reasonable price and should not pay no more than 10% of their income for energy services; 3. the due process principle requires the countries to follow the rule of law and human rights in their production and use of energy; 4. the good governance principle implies that all people should have access to all information regarding energy and environment, and citizens must have participation to fair, transparent, and accountable forms of energy decision-making process; 5. the sustainability principle is an obligation on the state to ensure long-term sustainable energy development with prudent management and to confirm sustainable use and sovereign rights over natural resources; 6. the intragenerational equity principle is a principle which emphasizes that people have the right to fairly access a certain set of minimal energy services enabling them to enjoy a basic minimum of wellbeing; 7. the intergenerational equity principle suggests future generations have a right to enjoy a good life undisturbed by the damage our energy systems inflict on the world today; and finally, 8. the responsibility principle refers to all nations’ duty to protect the natural environment and its sustainability as well as diminish energy-related environmental threats. Nevertheless, being a developing country, maintaining balance among the energy triangle i.e. energy equity, environmental sustainability and energy security is the major challenge for Bangladesh where both the economy and demand for energy are growing simultaneously and rapidly. Hence, Bangladesh is in such a tricky situation in the context of the present world while the globe is committed to reduce the greenhouse gas emission significantly in coming years whereas it must confirm affordable and continuous supply of power to boost up its current economic growth in one hand and safeguard sustainable development on the other hand. To ensure this, Bangladesh cannot be fully dependent on its own natural resources like coal and gas to produce electricity as these are emitting massive amount of CO2. Furthermore, the current gas reserves of Bangladesh are not sufficient for industrialization and power generation concurrently. Consequently, it becomes heavyily reliant on importation of coal, oil and gas from overseas which again create threat to supply and national security as well where the global reserves are also reducing quickly. Alternatively, Bangladesh can concentrate on renewable and ecofriendly sources of energy like solar, wind, biomass, thermal, hydro power, geothermal etc. But again those are not cheap like the traditional burning fossil fuels. Thus, Bangladesh needs a comprehensive energy justice framework concentrating on all the eight principles to safeguard sustainable development towards the real `Sonar Bangla`. Conversely, construction of a power plant beside a biodiversity hotspot is a clear threat to the eco system. Decisions on where to build nuclear waste repositories may raise severe concerns over the health and agriculture of the marginal rural communities. Moreover, forceful eviction of local community including the indigenous people or acquisition of land without proper consultation, compensation, participation or giving full information will definitely do injustice with them. Moreover, disproportionate distribution of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, may require re-thinking the distribution of energy costs and subsidies in societies that play host to high levels of social stratification and division. For example, a transition to renewable energy systems may deprive low-income households of meeting basic energy demand, due to increasingly higher prices as the costs of subsidies are passed on to consumers. Albeit Bangladesh has recently legislated new law and policy focusing on the renewable sources of energy and already constituted the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority to accelerate the process but still it produces about 90% of its electricity from fossils while the internal reserves are finishing quickly. Additionally, the price of power becomes so high for low income people in last couple of years. There is also major lack of due process and good governance in energy sector all over the country which ultimately obstruct sustainable development for the nation. Absence of informed decision and consent in most of the energy project further makes it more difficult for the native to know their benefits and burdens, and the intention of the corporate entities. Nonetheless, better representation of different marginal and ethnic groups in energy policymaking institutions potentially offers a more proactive approach in achieving justice. However, energy justice emphases on inequalities within energy systems and transitions and advocates for the equitable sharing of both the benefits and burdens of energy system services and for more inclusive decision-making processes. It can also be used as a framework to identify when, where, and how injustices occur within energy systems and how these injustices can be eliminated. Therefore, implementing all aspects of energy justice holistically is the most convenient way to resolve the long-rooted energy trilemma for Bangladesh. Raisul Sourav is a chevening scholar 2017-18 and currently pursuing his second LLM in international energy law and policy at the university of stirling, UK. He is also a university teacher, lawyer, legal researcher and, rights and equality activist.              
Category: Opinion
‘Prospect of hybrid electric vehicles in Bangladesh’
May 14, 2018 Monday 4:30 PM By Engr Md Shahin Alom
Hybrid cars are now more popular than conventional cars due to lower lifetime operating cost and environmental impact. Hybrid car uses a combination of an electric motor and a traditional engine to power the vehicle. This means the car uses a combination of electricity stored in batteries and fuel stored in a tank to drive the car forward. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are often more expensive than similar conventional vehicles, though some cost may be recovered through fuel savings or state incentives. A wide variety of HEV models is currently available, popular classes are full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Full hybrid vehicles are using a battery and electric motor in addition to an engine that runs on gasoline. These type cars are also more efficient and they can automatically choose to operate in electric mode, or engine mode. The example of a full hybrid is the Toyota Prius but today many automakers now offer full hybrids. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) have both an internal combustion engine and electric motor. These vehicles are powered by gasoline (petrol/octane), and a battery, which is charged up with electricity by plugging into an electrical outlet or charging station. Electric vehicles (EVs) also called battery electric vehicles are propelled by an electric motor powered by rechargeable battery packs. No other fuel source is used, and there is no internal combustion engine. Here are few of the drawbacks of a hybrid car:-hybrid cars are often less power than gasoline powered engine and more suited for city driving and not for speed and acceleration. Hybrid cars are comparatively expensive than a regular petrol car but that extra amount can be offset with lower running cost. Weight of hybrid car is higher due to a gasoline powered engine, a lighter electric motor and a pack of powerful batteries. The presence of dual engine, continuous improvement in technology led to higher maintenance cost and difficult to get good mechanics to repair the car. In case of an accident, the high voltage present inside the batteries can prove lethal for passenger. When you start up a hybrid vehicle, you may not even realize it! The engine is so quiet that you can hardly hear it all, this is true even when you are driving down the road. The unique engine and power supplies are the cause of this silence, even you can’t see out of the cars and nobody hears you are coming. The number of mainstream manufacturers are rushing to market hybrid and new electric cars with growing market demand. Such as Volvo announced that all its new cars will have a battery and electric motor by 2019. Mercedes, Audi, Toyota and Volkswagen are hot on the electric cars trail as well. Countries that have made early progress in the sale of electric cars, such as Norway, France, the Netherlands, and the UK, are expected to be among the leaders in 2040. Norway is currently the world leader in EV adoption per capita, thanks to substantial incentives, like an exemption from the 25% tax applied to vehicle sales. Norwegian buyers set a new record in June 2018, with 42% of new cars being EVs, including 27% from battery-only cars. Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s states by 2040, 54% of new car sales and 33% of the global car fleet will be EVs. China, the U.S. and Europe make up over 60% of the global EV market in 2040. Lithium-ion battery demand from EVs will grow from 21GWh in 2016 to 1,300GWh in 2030. We expect 270GWh of large format battery cell production to be online globally by 2021, led by global suppliers including LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Lishen, CATL, Tesla and others. The supply chain will need to scale up further in the 2020 to meet demand. Fossil fuel demand will be displaced by the growing fleet of EVs. It projects 34% of cars on the road will be EVs by 2040 – 530 million EVs in total – which will displace up to 1272m Liters of transportation fuel per day. As per ExxonMobil 2040 Outlook for Energy, hybrid electric vehicles will reduce 40% of global light-duty vehicle sales in 2040 compared to about 3% in 2016. Bangladesh HVs market Emerging economies such as Bangladesh is not expected to see significant EV sales until late in the next decade, despite that country’s pledge that all new cars sold there will be electric by 2030. EVs and PEVs cars will not economical for us due to insufficient infrastructure, dusty environment, huge traffic and lack of electricity. Although in Bangladesh demand of full hybrid cards (FHC) are growing significantly considering fuel efficiency i.e. Toyota, Prius c, 1.5 L, 4 cylinder, automatic (variable gear ratios) runs average 20 km/Ltr of gasoline, its more than 50% fuel saving than conventional cars. As an environmental aspect a hybrid car produces 25 to 35% less in CO2 emissions than regular cars. Those who are living in cities in Asian countries including Dhaka have already realized how seriously air pollution has been poisoning life and degrading the environment. The world’s purest recorded urban air, recording just 2 µg/m3 of PM2.5 pollution and 4 µg/m3 of PM10. As per WHO data in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the annual mean concentration of PM10 particles: 158µg/m3 (WHO guidelines: 20 µg/m3) and PM2.5: 90µg/m3 (WHO guidelines: 10µg/m3). Faulty vehicles (diesel/gasoline run), huge number of CNG filling stations are contributing to air pollution. The government may cut the tax and supplementary duty (SD) on the import of old hybrid vehicles for fiscal 2018-19 to facilitate the use of such cars that offer better fuel economy than the conventional ones. Importers currently have to pay 20 percent SD to bring hybrid vehicles of up to 1,600cc. Reduction in import tariff will encourage increased imports HVs. This will reduce the pressure on gas used as fuel for cars. Engr. Md. Shahin Alom is a Deputy General Manager of MJL Bangladesh Limited.
Category: Opinion
‘LNG will revolutionize energy landscape’
April 24, 2018 Tuesday 9:34 AM By Saleque Sufi
After long delay the supply of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) is set to commence from early May 2018. The tie in of submarine section of the re-gasified gas evacuation pipeline with land based manifold station at Moheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar is completed. The earlier completed 90 KM long 30 inches OD Maheshkhali to Anowara gas transmission pipeline completed earlier by Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) is commissioned with gas flowing back from gas grid.  Anowara CGS (city gate station) is also connected with 20 inches OD segment of Chattogram city ring main operated by Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL). The Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Limited owned floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) with first consignment of LNG is expected to anchor at designated location of offshore within a day or two. It will take at least a week to connect FSRU with the gas evacuation system, Petrobangla and Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) expects that LNG injection to Chattogram ring main may start from early May 2018. On the backdrop of chronic gas supply crisis stagnating industrial operation and development for 7-8 years will be relieved with the commencement of LNG supply. GTCL and Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL) sources informed that initially 100 MMCFD re-gasified LNG would be injected to Chattogram ring main.  Gradually it will be build up to 250 MMCFD. The LNG supply would increase to 500 MMCFD after completion and commissioning of Anowara to Faujdarhat under construction 42 Inches OD 30 KM pipeline.  Chattogram region of KGDCL has a coincident peak demand of 400-450 MMCFD against which the present supply is about 200-230 MMCFD.  Several industries are waiting in the wing for gas supply. The entire 500 MMCFD re-gasified LNG may be required for Chattogram region only. The net saving of 200-230 MMCFD gas now supplied from national gas grid may be diverted to other areas till additional re-gasified LNG starts flowing after Summit Group and other FSRUs are in place and under construction Moheshkhali–Anowara 42 inches gas transmission pipeline is completed in 2019. The design philosophy of Chattogram ring main provided for 420 MMCFD capacity at 350 PSIG is the gas is feed from Chattogram CGS. Needless mentioning that ring main is now operated at much lower than maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP). Anyway with the commencement of LNG supply Bangladesh will step into new horizon of achieving sustainable energy security gasified LNG at a rate of 100 MMCFD is expected to start flowing. LNG supply will bring relief and comfort to Bangladesh energy and power sector suffering from chronic gas supply deficit for almost a decade. Proven reserve of own gas is fast depleting. The deficit kept widening. The gas deficit created gas famine in greater Chattogram gas franchise apart from launching all round endeavor for expanding own gas resource base government initiated action for importing LNG from global market . The first such initiative of importing LNG through setting up FSRU suffered a set-back for a dispute between World Bank and Petrobangla. However, shorting out all peripheral issues government took major LNG import program for importing LNG through setting up several FSRU and few land based LNG terminals. The first of such FSRU set up by Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Limited is going to be operational from May 2018. Present government LNG program will import 2500 MMCFD LNG by 2025 and 3000 MMCFD LNG by 2030. The present supply of 2700 MMCFD is about 1000 MMCFD less than co-incident peak demand of gas franchise. Petrobangla requires alternating gas supply between power and fertilizer. Gas supply required rationing to all end users. Still all consumers were suffering from poor quality supply. Industrial development came to stand still for lack of gas supply. Chattogram region along was suffering from about 250 MMCFD gas deficit.  Now the primary supply of 250 MMCFD LNG will overcome that deficit. The remaining 250 MMCFD re-gasified LNG supply to national grid hopefully after June 2018 would boost gas supply to national grid improving gas supply quality to all consumers over the entire national gas grid. Once the beginning is made LNG import would start growing as more and more FSRU and few land based LNG terminals would be set up progressively. Re-gasified LNG supply to national gas grid would require adjusting gas price as LNG price is higher than weighted average price of gas in Bangladesh. Government has already decided not to supply pipeline gas for any new domestic users. Rather under LPG program would replace domestic gas use. Introduction of auto gas would also phase out gradually gas supply to automobiles. LNG price would be lower than liquid fuel. As such LNG based power generation would be also far more appropriate from environmental point of view than coal power. Industries would also require to improve fuel efficiency. Bangladesh must gradually go for lower energy intensive industries. LNG will be a new experience government companies would require developing capacities for managing LNG system operation developing skills of manpower. Government deserves accolades for ultimate success in commencing LNG import. Saleque Sufi is an eminent energy expert.   
Category: Opinion
A 100% renewable India: can it be done?
April 17, 2018 Tuesday 6:42 AM By Molly Lempriere
Research carried out at the University of Technology (LUT) in Finland has found that India will have the capacity to operate on a fully renewable electricity system by 2050. It`s a big claim for a nation of more than a billion people, many of whom still live without electricity at all. So what would it take? India has the capacity to operate entirely on renewables by 2050, is the bold claim of a study produced by the University of Technology (LUT) in Finland. Titled The Demand for Storage Technologies in Energy Transition Pathways Towards 100% Renewable Energy for India, it details how increasing solar, wind and storage capacities would allow India to transition from its fossil fuel-heavy energy mix to a clean and sustainable alternative. The work arose from the combined efforts of the Finnish Solar Revolution research project and the Neo-Carbon Energy research project. In the Finnish Solar Revolution, “LUT is specifically researching new and emerging markets for solar power development in the context of the global energy transition and the socioeconomic impacts of solar power”, says LUT doctoral researcher and co-author of the study Ashish Gulagi. "The Neo-Carbon Energy project has developed a new energy system based on solar and wind alongside other renewables such as hydropower, geothermal and sustainable biomass,” says Gulagi. “The system will produce energy that is emission-free, cost-effective and independent. To limit the global warming to 2°C, the transition towards renewables has to begin now. We have studied all the regions in the world, transitioning towards 100% renewable energy.” In India, the proposed system would not only provide energy, but power seawater desalination and generate synthetic natural gas. The transition would require €3,380bn worth of investment, but ultimately, power would cost €11 less per MWh, compared with current prices of INR3,220 (€46) per MWh. An estimated 15%-20% of power would be produced by energy prosumers, mainly citizens, using roof-mounted PV. “Given India’s burgeoning electricity demand and the persistent supply demand gap along with the summer shortages and outages, solar PV prosumers will have a crucial role in enabling the country’s transition to a fully sustainable energy system,” emphasises LUT’s professor Christian Breyer. Working towards 100% renewable The shift to renewable power generation is already underway, with 50,745MW of India’s 315,369.08MW of installed generation capacity comprised of renewables. This is continuing to expand and currently looks set to surpass its original goal of 175GW by 2022. "In the last couple of years, the government has woken up to the fact of climate change and its devastating effects on India,” says Gulagi. “India pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 33%-35% by 2030 in comparison to 2005. It has also pledged that 40% of the country’s electricity would be generated from non-fossil fuels, such as wind and solar.” Capacity auctions over the next four years amount to more than 81GW of solar, and India has 15.6GW already installed. Currently, wind provides more than double that of solar although installation is slowing. Wind accounts for 32.7GW of India`s generation, with a further 29GW planned before 2022. "India has been and will continue to be a major economy in the world,” says Gulagi. “The steps India takes to limit global warming will be keenly observed by the entire world. To succeed in limiting the global temperature rise to 2°C, India has to play a major role in achieving a global energy transition. India will be a key country in global energy studies and research.” However, 50 million rural households still lack access to electricity in India. Throughout his election campaign in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to increase electrification. Progress has been made, but as many as 240 million Indians still lack power. Balancing electrification with growth in the renewables sector represents a challenge, but possibly an opportunity. Many projects currently skip fossil fuels, for example using solar microgrids to electrify villages. As such, retrofitting is unnecessary. India also has the fastest growing population in the world, increasing by 15 million people a year, and the demand for energy is rising in correlation, a fact LUT has taken into account within its study. In 2015, power demand was at 720 million MWh, LUT estimates it to be about 6,200 million MWh in 2050. Overcoming coal’s dominance For India to become fully reliant on renewable energy, it will have to dramatically increase its solar and storage capacities according to LUT. “A first of its kind model with hourly resolution was utilised to determine the energy mix of the country based on the least cost principle,” explains Gulagi. “The LUT Energy System Transition model was used for the transition research of the Indian power system. This model optimises linearly the energy system parameters under previously defined constraints and the assumption for future renewable energy (RE) power generation and demand in the particular region.” Coal still accounts for nearly 60% of India’s energy mix, and while the share of renewables is expanding fast, there are a number of challenges, such as availability of land and the lack of a reliable and comprehensive transmission grid which will need to be overcome to reach 100% a renewable mix. The potential profitability of renewable projects has also become better understood. “In the past in India, there was a big problem of getting capital from banks for renewable energy projects,” says Gulagi. “They had high cost of capital. However, this has been changing rapidly as the banks are able to understand the renewable energy sector. Nowadays it is getting harder for coal power plants to get capital from the financial institutions.”  A large amount of energy storage will also be required in order for the system to provide reliable, constant power. “From our research we have identified that battery storage would be required when the share of RE in the system exceeds more than 50%,” says Gulagi. “In the future, faster adoption of storage technologies will be required. But this is not a problem as the cost decline of batteries is as same as solar energy.” Battery technology has got consistently cheaper over the last twenty years, and according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance survey, the price will drop to just $100/kWh by 2025. With the success of projects such as Tesla’s 100MW battery in Australia, their adoption is likely to increase worldwide bringing the cost down still further. As such, storage is unlikely to be the challenge it may first appear. “The biggest problem in achieving a high level of RE in the system is the political will to make people understand that such a system is possible in reality,” says Gulagi. “People still think that a baseload power plant is needed, for example India’s baseload power comes from coal. However, such a concept is old, and was made up by the coal and oil industry.” India first, then the world There are significant challenges for India to overcome when transitioning to an entirely renewable energy system, but it would be beneficial for India for a number of reasons. Not only would it dramatically cut the emissions of this, the third-biggest polluter in the world, but also create a huge number of jobs and improve health. “The quality of air and air pollution has been India’s biggest problem for many years. According to WHO [the World Health Organisation], there are seven Indian cities in the top ten most polluted cities in the world,” says Gulagi. “In 2015, 1.1 million people died due to air pollution and this has been more than China. So, India has surpassed China in the number of people dying due to air pollution. And the government is in constant denial that premature deaths are caused by air pollution.” India’s climate and landscape provide advantages for the uptake of renewables, getting as many as 300 days of sunshine a year to boost solar production. “India has one of the best solar potentials in the world, this resource is well distributed all over its area and with prices declining so fast every year, there is no reason why India cannot achieve its climate change targets and also achieve a fully sustainable energy system until the middle of this century,” says Gulagi. Beyond India, Gulagi and his team are confident that this model can be rolled out broadly. “If India can do it, all the countries should be able to follow the path set by India,” says Gulagi. Molly Lempriere is a features writer and energy analyst.
Category: Opinion
Nine year journey towards a middle income country: a score card of power sector
February 27, 2018 Tuesday 9:27 AM By Engr Mohammad Hossain
In the recent years Bangladesh has experienced booming economic growth, rapid urbanization and increased industrialization. Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared the ‘Vision 2021’ to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and ‘Vision 2041’ to be a developed and prosperous Bangladesh by 2041. In 2009, when the AL-led government assumed the office, the nation was suffering from chronic power supply crisis.  The average power demand at that time was about 6,000 MW while power generation capacity of the country was less than 5000MW. Eight to ten hours load- shedding in summer days was causing unbearable miseries. Now the generation capacity has increased more than 16,000 MW which is very much at par with the capacity as declared in the ruling party’s election manifesto. Achievement during 2009-2017 The government of the People`s Republic of Bangladesh is working relentlessly to materialize the `Vision 2021` of the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Power Division is committed to provide 100% access to electricity to the people of the country by 2021. In 2009, the access to electricity was 47% which is now 83%. It is expected that 100% electricity coverage would be possible much before 2021. In line with the `Vision 2021`, Power Sector’s vision has been set to ensure reliable electricity to all at an affordable price by the year 2021. The government has taken and implementing comprehensive action plan for the development of power sector. As a result, the rise in economic growth, the growth in the industrial sector, and rapid progress in urbanization has been achieved. The demand for electricity is increasingly snowballing. In the year 2015-2016, 1586 MW of power was added to the national grid. The progress of electricity generation is also reflected in comparison to the surge in per capita electricity consumption and in the number of subscribers. What was achieved between1971-2009, has been achieved and tripled in the last nine years by the present government. Achievement at a Glance The comparative power sector scenario is given below: Areas 2009 2017 Achievement No. of Power Plants 27 112 (+) 85 Generation Capacity (MW) 4,942 16,046 (+)  11,104 Maximum Generation (MW) 3,268 9,507 (+)  6,239 Transmission Line (Circuit km) 8,000 10,622 (+)  2,622 Distribution Line (Thousand km) 260 420 (+)  160 System Loss (T&D) 16.85% 12.19% (-) 4.66% Per Capita Power Generation (kWh) 220 433 (+)  213 Total Consumers (Lakh) 108 274 (+) 166 Access to Electricity 47% 83% 36% * Including captive Initiatives taken during 2009-2017 During the nine years tenure of the government a good number of new initiatives have been taken which has resulted a landmark achievement in the power sector. Cross Border Electricity Trade (CBET) Power exchange through regional cooperation has been commenced during this period. Import of 660 MW electricity from regional grids from India has started through CBET. By 2021, plan has been taken to further import 3,500 MW of power through regional cooperation. High Voltage DC (HVDC) The first ever 400kV- HVDC line has been established to import 500 MW power from Baharampur, India through Bheramara, Bangladesh grid interconnection. The 54.7 ckt-km 1113 MCM double circuit line has been established in 2013 to transmit electricity by converting into high voltage DC from AC and then converted into 230kV AC at the Bheramara station. Grid Tied Solar Power The first grid-tied solar power plant in Bangladesh has been installed at Sarishabari in Jamalpur with a capacity of 3MW. Solar Mini Grid Hon’ble Prime Minister has inaugurated 400kW Solar Mini Grid in Saskhai Bazar of Sulla Upazila in Sunamganj District on December10, 2017, through video conferencing. It is the largest solar mini grid project in the country and one of the largest solar mini grid in the world. The project is providing power to the marginalized rural population of the remote haor areas in Sunamganj district covering around 1000 households providing grid quality electricity from solar power. As part of off-grid electrification, distribution of solar home system, solar mini grid, micro grid programs have been taken by the government. So far, 45 million solar home system (SHS), 10 solar mini grids have been installed in off-grid rural areas. Government has a plan to install 60 million solar home system and 50 solar mini-grid system by 2018 to cover about 10% of total population. Mega Projects Government has undertaken 13 mega projects in co-operation with India, Japan, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore to set up coal-based power plants. The primary work of establishing a total 5,925 MW power plant in the public and private sectors is underway. It is expected that the first mega project of Payra 1300MW will come into operation in April 2019. Prepaid Metering System Pre-paid metering system has been introduced nationwide aimed at ensuring easier bill payment with hundred percent collection of electricity bill. About seven lakh pre-paid meters have been installed till date and another twenty-seven lakh meters would be installed within next June 2018. After installation of these pre-paid meters virtually there is no accounts receivable of pre-paid consumers. Moreover, due to introduction of pre-paid meters, system loss has been reduced significantly and also demand at consumer level reduced. ICT in Power Sector In order to establish good governance through increasing the quality of customer service, increasing efficiency, transparency and accountability, the Power Division has taken and implemented digitalization of the sector. In addition to on-line power connections and bill payment systems, PMIS and complaints management system have also been introduced. A comprehensive website of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has been developed, which is playing important role in social communication and promotion. Underground System Government has decided to develop underground distribution system in major cities of the country. The aim is to provide the facility of modern cities with an advance electricity supply system. The government owned power distribution company DPDC and DESCO have adopted several plans to establish underground distribution substations and supply lines to switch to modern-country’s practice of having underground power-distribution system. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Transmission The government has decided to implement electricity transmission projects under PPP for the first time. It may be worth mentioning here that government initiated IPPs in 1997 during the first term of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) SREDA was established in 2012. The aim of the establishment of SREDA is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and to mitigate risks associated with natural calamities stemming from global warming in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council (EPRC) EPRC has been established to provide the platform to attract experts worldwide, and help to create in-country expertise through scientific collaboration. It will strengthen and mobilize research capabilities at universities, public/private research organizations, and industry practitioners as well as assist individual entrepreneurs to develop applicable technologies and systems for the development of the energy and power sector of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Power Management Institute (BPMI) BPMI has been incorporated aiming to capacity building of the power sector and create efficient manpower for both public and private sectors. BPMI campus will be set up in the suburb of Keraniganj on 25 acres of land of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). The organization has started its functioning last year. Challenges (1) Domestic Gas Depletion Bangladesh was largely dependent on domestic gas for electricity generation while almost 96% generation was from gas in 2009. At the moment domestic sources of gas are becoming increasingly unreliable. Bangladesh plans to increase reliance on coal-fired power generation. Under the proposed PSMP 2016, 60%-70% of electricity generation will be dependent on imported electricity or imported fuel (LNG). (2) Grid Stability Transmission capacity in Bangladesh is not growing fast enough to cope up with power generation, resulting in supply bottlenecks in important commercial corridors (such as Chittagong and Comilla). And unexpected outages, like the November 2014 country-wide blackout, perpetuate concerns about the security and stability of the country’s power grid. Power system frequency in Bangladesh varies routinely on normal days between 48.9-51.2 Hz and can go as low as 48.7 Hz and as high as 51.5 Hz under contingency. This is a major impediment to system reliability and also causes a severe economic loss including our-of-merit dispatch. (3) Distribution Bottleneck Present capacity of distribution lines in Bangladesh is about 420 thousand kilometers and sub-station capacity is about 20 thousand MVA. Remarkable success achieved during last nine years. But the present distribution infrastructure is not enough to ensure quality, uninterrupted and reliable electricity for all by 2021. Huge number of distribution lines and substations will need to be constructed to meet the vision 2021 of the government. But project financing, up-gradation of existing infrastructure, timely implementation of project, conversion of overhead system into underground system, implementation of smart grid and prepaid metering system and ERP are the major challenges.  (4) Land availability A key constraint in Bangladesh electricity-generation development is land availability, be it for coal mining, thermal power generation, utility-scale solar or hydroelectricity. Bangladesh has one of the highest population densities in the world. The World Bank estimates 59% of Bangladesh’s total land is arable, and 11% is forested. With 66% of the population still based in rural areas, this is a key constraint that requires careful management. (5) Off-Grid Electrification The vision of the government is to ensure quality and reliable electricity supply for all by 2021 but the main challenge for achieving this target is the electrification of off-grid areas of Bangladesh, where expansion of national grid is highly expensive and time consuming. To overcome this barrier government has taken initiatives to electrify the off-grid rural areas, remote islands and hill tracts by the development of renewable energy resources. Steps to Overcome the Challenges (1) Fuel Diversification Natural gas is the main fuel for power generation in Bangladesh. But the natural gas is depleting day by day. Recognizing the importance of primary fuel for generation of electricity, the Government of Bangladesh has diversified the fuel mix for power generation. Government has a plan to gradually use coal, LNG and other available fuel for power generation besides gas. To ensure energy security, government has prepared PSMP-2016 considering gas, coal, LNG, liquid fuel, duel fuel, nuclear and renewable energy resources. Government has also taken initiatives to import power from neighboring countries.   (2) Free Governor Mode of Operation (FGMO) Potential remedy of grid stabilizations is with the simplest primary governor control scheme. A set of trials with FGMO with limited number of generating units was conducted to stabilize the system frequency with encouraging results. Simple but effective and useful measures like these can provide enormous relief to the Bangladesh system and paves the way for it to grow rapidly over the coming decades. These experiments are also highly relevant for a number of other developing countries experiencing similar issues to systematically explore frequency control measures. (3) Augmentation in distribution An integrated power distribution programme has been undertaken to increase the distribution network in order to bring 100% population under electrification as well as improving the customer service. To ensure reliable, quality and uninterrupted electricity for the people of Bangladesh a strong distribution network is essential. The present capacity of distribution lines and substations are not adequate enough to provide uninterrupted electricity supply to the consumers. Besides, construction of 159km of new lines augmentation and modernization of existing distribution system is required. For this reason, government has taken following programs in distribution sector: Conversion of overhead system into underground system. Implementation of smart grid system. Implementation of pre-paid metering program. Replacement of overloaded transformers. Renovation and overhauling of distribution lines and sub-stations. Expansion of distribution network. Overall Evaluation Bangladesh can look forward to a continued period of strong economic growth and development. The power sector should play a critically important role underpinning sustainable development. A cost-effective long-term investment program that prioritizes clean energy, smart grid and energy efficiency. Increased electricity imports would best serve the country in terms of energy security in comparison to heavy reliance on fossil fuel imports. Through successful implementation of the power sector plans, reliable energy supply will no longer remain just a dream. These will facilitate achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also establish Bangladesh as an example for development all over the world as we have shown in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The development of power sector will not only elevate Bangladesh to a higher status but also upsurge productivity which will boost the economic advancement of Bangladesh. Engr Mohammad Hossain, Director General of Power Cell, Power Division.            
Category: Opinion
Bangladesh`s entrance into the prestigious league of nuclear power nation
November 26, 2017 Sunday 10:36 AM By Dr. Mohammad Shawkat Akbar
I would remember this day-November 04, 2017-as one of my most memorable days ever. Our hard works and determinations have paid fruits as in this Design and Construction License ceremony of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant; we receive the license for unit-1 of the power plant. I extend my sincere gratitude to the organiser, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA ) for organising the Design and Construction License ceremony timely.  It is obviously an important event in the history of nuclear power programme of Bangladesh. This will be written in the pages of history as a moment of pride for us as for the first time Bangladesh has obtained the Design and Construction License for Rooppur NPP with VVER-1200, ASE-2006 reactor and have entered into the prestigious league of nuclear power nation. This license has permitted us to start the construction of country’s first nuclear power plant, the Rooppur NPP. After receiving the Design and Construction License, the first concrete pouring ceremony for unit-1 of Rooppur NPP will be held in the presence of the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on November 30, 2017. Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority has granted this Design and Construction License following a thorough evaluation of the preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR), some other extensive and specific documents concerning Rooppur NPP site safety, Rooppur NPP technology and its safety systems, construction methodology and organisational matters submitted by the applicant, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC). Developing licensing process and assessment of PSAR documents and other technical documents is a complex and challenging task, but BAERA has taken that challenges and has established the licensing framework; granted the Siting License of Rooppur in June 21, 2016, performed assessment of the PSAR documents, various technical and safety documentations of Rooppur NPP and finally has granted the Design and Construction License in a short period of time. We are grateful to BAERA Chairman Dr Naiyyum Chowdhury for his leadership in this regard and to Honorable Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman, Principal Coordinator of SDG Affairs of Prime Minister`s Office Abul Kalam Azad and Science and Technology Secretary Md Anwar Hossain for their constant support and guidelines. I am grateful to my project personnel, BAEC and contractor for timely preparing and submitting the relevant documents and information to BAERA and time to time consultation with BAEAR. I would love to term this ceremony as an announcement to our nation about the readiness of Bangladesh in constructing Rooppur NPP and also a notification regarding the safety assurance of Rooppur NPP construction site. The Rooppur NPP will be constructed at the site as required by the legislation and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines. The design and construction license is authorizing BAEC to use the project site for construction of the unit-1 of the Rooppur NPP with VVER-1200, AES-2006 design. The Design and Construction License establishes the requirements and conditions for performing the activities related to construction of the foundation plate under the reactor building, construction of main buildings and structures of the Rooppur NPP unit-1, construction of auxiliary buildings and structures of the unit-1. I am happy to understand that based on the regulatory approach of the Design and Construction License, BAERA along with TSO will make independent audits and inspections conformity assessment to confirm that all the equipment and components of Rooppur NPP will be manufactured following the approved design and working documentations, industry and quality standards and proven engineering practices. We believe that along with BAERA, my project authority will establish a robust procurement, inspection, and auditing processes during manufacturing of the equipment in Russian Federation and construction and erection activities at Rooppur NPP site. As a project director of Rooppur NPP, I am confident that all activities under this present Design and Construction License will be performed strictly complying the terms and conditions of this license as well as international standards and IAEA recommendations. We are assuring that the objective of the principle-1 of the IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles which states that “the prime responsibility for safety must rest with the person or organisation responsible for facilities and activities that give rise to radiation risk” will be fulfilled by us and we will build a safe and secured NPP at Rooppur according to the construction schedule and within the budget. Dr. Mohammad Shawkat Akbar, is a nuclear scientist andProject Director of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.      
Category: Opinion
‘Challenges of hydrocarbon exploration and mining in Bangladesh’
September 22, 2017 Friday 11:31 AM By Dr Badrul Imam
Development of petroleum and mining sectors are fundamental to a healthy growth of energy and power sectors, the main drivers of the economic development of a nation. In both counts Bangladesh falls short of its true potentials. The country is yet to unearth its true natural gas prospects. Also a significant coal reserve based in the north Bengal remains undeveloped.  A robust petroleum and mining development program and a qualified national work force may significantly change if not reverse the notion of almost total dependence on imported fuels in the next decade as envisaged in the master plan. Considering the growth of gas demand it is reasonable to suggest that the country will run out of its present gas reserves in a decade. However, geological interpretations suggest that significant gas resources are yet to be discovered in the country in the onshore and offshore areas. Bangladesh has not reached a mature stage of petroleum exploration and all of its gas discoveries are found in simple conventional plays i.e. anticlinal traps in the eastern fold belt in the country. There remains an area of untapped gas plays known as stratigraphic plays which are theoretically distributed all over the country but hardly explored.  Furthermore the unconventional plays like thin bed plays, synclinal plays,  tight sand plays, over-pressured plays are areas which have very good geological prospects but little explored. Some of these kind of prospects are proven by the successes in adjacent Tripura state of India which is geologically same as eastern Bangladesh. The offshore Bangladesh is the least explored area. The Indian part of the Bay to the west of Bangladesh sea and the Myanmar part to the east, both have registered significant gas discoveries in the last ten years. Specially the Rakhain offshore basin of Myanmar lying adjacent to the south eastern offshore area of Bangladesh has large and recent gas successes. Considering the fact that the offshore Rakhain Basin and SE offshore Bangladesh belong to single geological entity, gas prospects in the Bangladesh part should be equally bright. The above discussion leads to the conclusion that the remaining gas prospects of Bangladesh has been underplayed at recent time. On the other hand the planning and implementation to build up infrastructures and logistics for costly LNG have been overly played. It is understood that import of LNG to tackle the running gas crisis is justified in the face of no alternative available immediately. But the merit of planning major dependence on imported and costly LNG for a long term is certainly questionable. This will inevitably give the economy a major shock as the power and industrial products generated will be costly and may not be sustainable.  Bangladesh has significant mineable coal reserves stored in four coal fields in the north Bengal. The total in situ coal amounts to an estimated 2000 million tonnes in these coal fields. Only one coal field, Barapukuria has been developed and produces coal at an annual rate of 1 million tonne per year. Because of the fact that the coal fields lie underneath fertile agricultural land in a thickly populated area and the fact that inherent hydrological problem make open cast mining difficult, the present government’s stand of not to develop open cast mining seems reasonable. But these coal fields may be developed by underground mines. The recovery of coal by underground mining may be optimized by state of art technology. This will certainly reduce the dependence on imported fuels and will promote self reliance make better economic sense. At the same time developing a dedicated national expert work force to take the challenges of petroleum and mining development activities is vitally important. Expanding and increasing the institutional capabilities are prerequisite to achieve that goal. Dr. Badrul Imam is an energy expert and professor of Geology of Dhaka University.    
Category: Opinion
Coal as a primary source of energy towards energy security of Bangladesh
August 25, 2017 Friday 9:27 PM By Reshad Md. Ekram Ali
State-owned Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) entrusted with the responsibilities of deciphering the geology of the country, exploring geological resources (except oil and gas), all sorts of geological and geophysical mapping, environment and urban geology and geo-hazard studies. Important geological resources discovered by GSB are Coal. Limestone, Hard Rock, White Clay, Glass Sand, Peat, Heavy Minerals and Construction Aggregates (sand and gravel).  Coal Reserve of Bangladesh GSB played an important role in the coal discovery of the country through systemic survey.  Coal reserve of the country are listed in the following Table. Table: Coal Reserve of Bangladesh Table: Quality of Coal in Bangladesh The coal is low sulfur bituminous coal. Gross calorific value between 11,000-12,500 (btu/lb) Silent Features of Coal in the World Coal is actively mined in 70 nations, with 85% consumed within the country in which it is produced. Only 15% of coal is traded internationally. The ability to readily transport coal by ship, barge, rail and truck, without the need for pipeline infrastructure, contributes to coal’s supply stability. Coal also has the unique advantage of being able to be stored on-site, providing weeks or even months of fuel supply at the power plant. This important characteristic contributes to grid reliability, resiliency and reduces fuel supply bottlenecks. Most of the world’s coal exports originate from countries which are considered to be politically stable, including the U.S., reducing the risk of supply interruptions. Consider, by contrast, that over 53% of the world`s natural gas reserves are controlled by Russia, Iran and Qatar, while more than 50% of the world’s oil reserves are located in the Middle East. Coal provides 30% of global primary energy. It is used to generate 41% of global electricity. It is also used to produce 68% of the world`s steel and is a key source of energy in energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum and cement production. Use of Coal in Power Generation Coal is widely used in the power generation worldwide. Coal based power plants provide over 42% of global electricity supply. There are 400 coal-powered electric plants are present in the United States. As the world prepares for the Paris climate change talks later this year, moving to renewable sources of energy is a key part of many countries’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, in 2012, 40.4% of all electricity production worldwide still came from coal. China produces the most electricity from coal by a long margin-3,785 TWh, more than twice as much as the US in second place. India, Japan and Germany complete the top five. Bangladesh has only one Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur.  Prospect in Bangladesh using coal as the source of energy With the looming gas crisis, Bangladesh is gradually shifting its primary energy focus from gas to coal. The government is taking full-fledged efforts to identify cheaper and more reliable alternatives like coal. Government has a plan to produce 20,000MW of electricity by 2021 as per Vision 2021. Bangladesh has only Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur having 250 MW capacity (two units). Third unit of Barapukuria coal-based power plant in Dinajpur is underway to add 275 MW to the national grid by 2018. The Rampal power station is a proposed 1320 MW coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna, Bangladesh. The Matarbari Power Plant is a proposed 1,200 MW coal-based power plant  to be built in Moheskhali Upazila of Cox’s Bazar District. The Payra Power Plant is a proposed 1,320 MW coal-based power plant to be built in Kalapara Upazila of Patuakhali District. Bangladesh has sufficient and proven reserve of coal especially in Northern parts of Bangladesh which is around 3 Billion Ton equivalents to heating capacity 37 TCF gas. With the present reserve Bangladesh can produce-  250 MW electricity daily require yearly 0.65 million tones of coal to run a Thermal Power Plant 5000 MW electricity daily require yearly 13 million tones of coal to run a Thermal Power Plant 25% recovery from Barapukuria, Phulbari, Khalashpir and Dighipara coal fields 562 million ton of coal can produce 5000 MW of electricity  daily for about 44 years 562 million ton of coal can produce 10000 MW of electricity daily for about 22 years. Advantage of Coal is as source of energy The reasons are listed below: Cheapest source of energy.  It is by far cheaper than nuclear, natural gas, oil.  Coal also provides a stable source of energy (no Arab oil embargoes, no sudden scarcity like you experience with natural gas) Coal provides many jobs.  Unlike other forms of energy (nuclear, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric), coal provides many jobs in removing coal from the earth, transporting it to the utility, burning it, and properly disposing of coal ash. Coal can be mined and burned with little environmental impact.  There has been tremendous strides in environmental responsibility with mining coal and burning coal.  Coal energy is an affordable energy source because of the coal’s stable price compared to other fuel sources Coal is easy to burn Coal produces high energy upon combustion.  Improvements in the Efficiency of Coal based Power Plants Supercritical and Ultra supercritical Technology New pulverized coal combustion systems – utilizing supercritical and ultra-supercritical technology – operate at increasingly higher temperatures and pressures and therefore achieve higher efficiencies than conventional PCC units and significant CO2 reductions. Supercritical steam cycle technology has been used for decades and is becoming the system of choice for new commercial coal-fired plants in many countries. Research and development is under way for ultra-supercritical units operating at even higher efficiencies, potentially up to around 50%. The introduction of ultra-supercritical technology has been driven over recent years in countries such as Denmark, Germany and Japan, in order to achieve improved plant efficiencies and reduce fuel costs. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) An alternative to achieving efficiency improvements in conventional pulverized coal-fired power stations is through the use of gasification technology. IGCC plants use a gasified to convert coal (or other carbon-based materials) to syngas, which drives a combined cycle turbine. Fluidised Bed Combustion Fluidized Bed Combustion (FBC) is a very flexible method of electricity production – most combustible material can be burnt including coal, biomass and general waste. FBC systems improve the environmental impact of coal-based electricity, reducing SOx and NOx emissions by 90%. Pulverized coal combustion systems Producing electricity in coal power plants can take place in a number of ways with varying degrees of efficiency. In conventional coal-fired plants coal is first pulverized into a fine powder and then combusted at temperatures of between 13000C to 17000C. This Technology accounts for 97% of World Coal plants with more than 40 percent efficiency. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, the use of CCS with renewable biomass is one of the few carbon abatement technologies used in a `carbon-negative` mode actually taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Way Forward-Opportunities and Hopes New technologies with time eco-friendly mining could be possible even at greater depth. Coal bed Methane Underground Coal Gasification Improvements in the efficiency of coal-fired power plants can be achieved with technologies  Coal Bed Methane (CBM) CBM is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called `sweet gas` because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coal bed methane is distinct from a typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption. India’s Director General of Hydrocarbon has approved the drilling of more than 100 CBM wells that cover the next four years will involve total investment of $150 million. India’s CBM reserve estimated at 16 TCF. Underground Coal Gasification Underground coal gasification (UCG) is an industrial process which converts coal into product gas. UCG is an in-situ gasification process carried out in non-mined coal seams using injection of oxidants, and bringing the product gas to surface through production wells drilled from the surface. Only in the case of the Soviet Union in the 1960s was UCG pushed forward into full production at a handful of plants in remote areas. Only one plant in Uzbekistan continues to operate. In the rest of the world sporadic attempts at testing of UCG over the last few decades have generally ended very badly. 24 UCG licenses approved around Britain Swansea Bay likely to be site of first tests. Conclusion Presently, innovations of new technologies and eco-friendly management of resources create opportunities to develop these earth resources in Bangladesh in win-win situation with the community for the betterment of the economy of the country as well as society through generation of direct and indirect employment Coal is the cheapest and most abundant source of energy. Unlike with natural gas or oil, there is very little chance of coal being scarce as it is plentiful all over the world. Coal reserves are estimated to be around a million tons and is expected to be available for consumption for the next 200 years. Because of its high reserve, low costs, coal can be the main primary energy source of Bangladesh towards energy security, countries like India, South Africa, China, Philippines. Reshad Md. Ekram Ali, Director General of Geological Survey of Bangladesh
Category: Opinion
UNESCO withdarws objection against present Rampal Power Plant location
July 10, 2017 Monday 9:25 AM By Saleque Sufi
A press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh revealed on 6 July 2017 revealed of UNESCO withdrawing its much talked about controversial objections about Rampal Power Plant (RPP) in its location. The Ultra Super Critical Technology using High Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) power plant location is 14 Km away from the outer periphery of Sunadarban Mangrove forest and about 70 Km from the region earmarked as world heritage. The press release states, “The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has withdrawn its earlier objection to the construction of Rampal power plant project at its current location. It has also spared the Sundarbans from being relegated to the List of World Heritage in Danger.  The decision was made at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Krakow, Poland. A high level inter-ministerial delegation led by Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury BB, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs is participating in the meeting to defend Bangladesh`s position. “ RPP is 1,320 MW ultra-super critical technology (USC) adopting High Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) type imported coal based power plant under implementation by BIFPCL, a BPDB, Bangladesh and NTPC, India Joint Venture company. In the wake of major depletion of discovered gas resource which provided the fuel for power Bangladesh government adopted imported coal as the preferred fuel for power generation. Given the complexity of mining own coal it chose imported coal as preferred option. Rampal was selected as the most suitable site for its location beside Poshur river and having enough sparsely habited fallow land. Moreover, the prospect of massive industrialization in Southern Region of Bangladesh following the completion of Padma Multipurpose Bridge and proximity of Mongla Export Processing Zone were also among the reasons for choosing the location. Considering the proximity of echo sensitive Sundarban mangrove forest Government was additionally careful about adoption of technology and use of coal for the plant. The EPC tender document prescribed for adoption of HELE type Ultra supercritical technology, use of less polluting low sulfur, low ash coal, incorporation of FGD, Low NOX burner , ESP , Dry Ash Collection method for mitigating SOX, NOX, Mercury  and Ash emissions . Comprehensive ETP has been incorporated in the design for neutralizing effluents before release and 2-degree Celsius temperature difference has been prescribed between intake and off take of water. Water Recycling is also in the design for minimizing the water use. A fully covered coal storage facility is also in the design. Covered handyman type coal carrier would transship and transport coal from Panamax type mother vessels anchored in the deep sea. A 275-Meter-high Chimney for letting out much less than prescribed minimum emissions is also provided for. About 200 plant engineers and operators would live inside the plant area.  If they are not affected there cannot be any reason why uninformed academicians and non-technical persons are worried about eco system and bio diversity of Mangrove forest at safer distance. It is a pity that such persons are treated as Energy Expert in certain Bangladesh media. All these above were explained in many different ways by experienced professionals in response to uninformed concerns raised by a section of academicians and civil society. These groups with the patronage of international anti coal NGOs in social media and print media continued their propaganda avalanche. UNSECO also possibly got concerned.Earlier in 2016, a Reactive Monitoring Mission from UNESCO recommended relocation of Rampal power plant considering its likely impact on the Sundarbans.  Unfortunately, the report of the committee reflected almost entirely the position of a self-styled Oil Gas Protection Committee (OGPC) of Bangladesh instead of relying on Government assurances. UNESCO observations were duly responded. The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Krakow, Poland discussed the matter on Wednesday 4 July where a high powered Bangladesh team clarified its position and commitments for safeguarding environment. The 21-member World Heritage Committee decides on whether a cultural or natural site should be inscribed on the World Heritage List, monitors the state of conservation of the inscribed heritage sites, and can place a site on the World Heritage in Danger if found that the site is not being properly managed by the concerned State. After a long deliberation, the Committee endorsed Bangladesh`s decision to construct Rampal power plant at its current location with necessary mitigation measures. The Committee in its decision also welcomed a number of steps taken by Bangladesh since 2016 to ensure conservation of the Sundarbans World Heritage Property. At the request of the Committee, Bangladesh agreed to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the South-West region of the country, including the Sundarbans. The session of World Heritage Committee is still not over. The decision of the committee is expected to be officially announced within weeks of conclusion of the meeting. Unfortunately quoting the working paper of the meeting dated 19 May 2017 some vested quarter is still trying to confuse people. That document which some persons are referring to WHC/17/41.COM/7B, Paris,19 May 2017 does not reflect the discussion and decisions of the meeting held on 4 July, 2017. There is no reason for any one getting confused at all.   Works of RPP is proceeding smoothly after Indian EXIM Bank providing loan to BIFPCL. The EPC Contractor BHEL India has started the work and the Commercial operation of the plant is expected within 48 months meaning sometime in 2021. Those who thinks coal will soon be discarded as preferred fuel must note that a recent study by Australian Government engaged specialist committee revealed that High Efficiency Low Emission technology using modern coal power plants would cost much less than renewable energy –Solar, wind or any other power generation option. Australia is going to go for such plants replacing the existing ageing coal plants. Coal would continue contributing as major fuel for base load power generation in the world well into foreseeable future. We were always confident that UNSECO or any international organisation would come to senses when they get all information and documents from responsible Government representative. From our past proven practical experience and having extensive discussions with RPP executives, site visits we were convinced that RPP designed as planned, constructed and operated according would cause no harm to Sundarban. We hope theoreticians and agitators would refrain from creating further controversies about high priority national project. At the same time, we would also expect that Government also engages a high powered national committee to monitor the activities of the project. The project team also needs qualified Bangladeshi professionals alongside Indian Counterpart. Bangladesh lacks expertise for managing operation of Ultra Super Critical Technology using power plants. Saleque Sufi is an energy expert.  
Category: Opinion
‘Crude oil price create maximum utilization scope’
May 17, 2017 Wednesday 12:54 PM By Rezaul Kabir
Energy is the most important object for development of a country and petroleum is the key source of energy generation as well as revenue generation for development of a nation. Internationally crude oil price comes down to about US$28/barrel at mid 2015 and maximum price was US$125/barrel at early 2012. It is fluctuating around the benchmark of US$50/barrel since late 2015 to till date. Bangladesh has no crude oil production field at this moment except condensate the byproduct of natural gas and local demand is mostly fulfilled by importing crude oil. Through import of crude oil country is losing huge amount of foreign currency and by keeping oil price at higher level Government get rid of subsidy in this sector and additionally it is generating surplus revenue for them. According to recent data of state-owned Petrobangla consumption demand of natural gas is about 3500 mmcfd where as total production is about 2700 mmcfd, shortage is about 800 mmcfd. Among this total production about 38% of natural gas is used for power generation, 6% is used for fertilizer as off season and other 56% is used for different industry, CNG and household purpose. Bangladesh has total recoverable reserve about 13.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf). The present consumption rate of natural gas may reduce the total reserves drastically and so far it may last for 10-15 years from now. Though have a vast unexplored offshore area of Bangladesh which is highly potential for hydrocarbon. As low international price of oil government might think of reducing oil price locally in view to increase the use of crude oil in different arena which may insist to reduce the use of natural gas for some energy user like motor vehicle and in production of power. It’s now proper time to change the raw materials from natural gas to crude oil for energy generation as the international oil price is at low level as well as it may help to save our natural gas. Increase use of crude oil ultimately helps to minimize the production of natural gas as well as may prolong the consumption period of natural gas. There is no scope of increasing international crude oil price within the next five years and it will be within the bench mark of US$45-60/barrel as because the oil production is still surplus in OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and other oil exporting countries. Even after cut the production of crude oil by OPEC countries the price is still fluctuating around US$50/barrel. Since 2016 USA increase the production of fracking shale oil and this year USA increase the drilling rig operation around 15%, meaning the increase of crude oil production which may affect the oil price to be at lower. It might keep the oil price within the bench mark of US$45-60/barrel supposed to be standard for international oil market and may continue this price till 2022. The production rates of fracking shale oil is considerably higher and continue for longer period than a normal oil field (sandstone reservoir) as shale is the source rock for oil and gas. Besides most of the oil producing country is now thinking to reduce production cost through preferring the exploration of fracking shale oil and oil reserves at shallow depth. On the other hand the world is now seeking alternate energy source like solar energy, nuclear energy and wind energy etc and some countries have wide extent use of alternate energy source and day by day increasing all over the world. It also means that the growth of petroleum (oil) demand will be lower slowly following the next 10-20 years and the demand of crude oil is turning downtrend. Thus the oil exporting countries and international oil companies is now thinking of production cost considering oil price at around US$50-60/barrel and recalculate their production cost to keep as low as possible favoring return to drilling operation as oil and gas industry is now in big crisis. From the above justification the prediction here, has no possibility of increasing crude oil price more than US$60/barrel in near future or even could be lower considering the extensive innovation of alternate energy source and fracking shale oil.                                                           Figure: Crude oil price graph of last two years Bangladesh might take this opportunity through maximum use of crude oil by creating a vast marketing scope in the entire applicable sector and earn good revenue. For this government may think to reduce oil price at minimum level by keeping minimum profit margin and it will also reduce the production cost of byproduct materials, may create a vast crude oil market and accelerate the economic growth of country. Through marginal profit and huge marketing it may create large revenue at end. There will be great advantage for the nation that it will reduce the use of natural gas and longer the consumption period of our valuable asset, also replace energy raw materials from natural gas to crude oil and Bangladesh will turn into a developed country.  Rezaul Kabir is a petroleum geologist and an international oil & gas exploration specialist.
Category: Opinion
Appraisal of Chevron’s asset in Bangladesh
March 19, 2017 Sunday 8:08 PM By Rezaul Kabir
Chevron is one of the leading oil and gas exploration and production company in world. They have a big discovery of onshore gas field in Sylhet region of Bangladesh and producing and meeting demand almost 58% of total daily consumption of natural gas generally pronounce their role behind energy efficiency in Bangladesh. It also indicates the rich hydrocarbon reserve area of Bangladesh is under directive of Chevron and earns good revenue from this resource. Chevron is now thinking to sell their business part and Bangladesh is enthusiastically interested to purchase the share value for the proven recoverable underground natural gas reserves in allocated blocks of Chevron. Chevron has three pronounced discovery fields in their allocated blocks like Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulvibazar. Bibiyana is the largest reserve holding 7.6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) gas and among this reserve it has already been exhausted and consumed 3 Tcf, now expected remnant reserve is around 4.6 Tcf. In Jalalabad have reserve of about 2.2 Tcf and extracted and consumed gas is about 1 Tcf, remains reserve around 1.2 Tcf. In Moulvibazar has no remarkable reserve any more. Normally, about 20-25% of total reserve might be unrecoverable. A producible gas field may decline formation pressure slowly after withdrawal 50% of proven reserve as well as the production rate will also be lower. It may need further renovation work to increase the volume of production that may also increase the well production cost. It has already been extracted gas 40% at Bibiyana and 45% at Jalalabad. Both of the fields are very much close to stage of formation pressure depletion for pay zone under production. For such well if have available pay zone not in production track might be valuable.    In view of purchase the asset valuation is most important and estimation of cost for any invisible asset is quite difficult. Reserve of underground natural gas is invisible and it’s only predictable assessment on reserve. So how much authentic the estimated reserve of Chevron as the total value of asset is depending on this reserve. As production sharing contract (PSC) Chevron may supposed to have share only on the remaining proven recoverable reserve and may estimate total cost of Chevron’s share as existing economic conditions. All the surface setup by Chevron is subject to zero value as the cost is already recovered and the owner of all surface facilities is The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh. I do highlight some points here below on hydrocarbon reserve.         Reserves are defined as those quantities of petroleum which are anticipated to be commercially recovered from known accumulations from a given date forward. Estimated recoverable quantities from known accumulations which do not fulfill the requirement of commerciality should be classified as contingent resources. The definition of commerciality for an accumulation will vary according to local conditions and circumstances and is left to the discretion of the country or company concerned. However, reserves must still be categorised according to the specific criteria of the SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers)/WPC (World Petroleum Council) definitions and therefore proved reserves will be limited to those quantities that are commercial under current economic conditions, while probable and possible reserves may be based on future economic conditions. In general, quantities should not be classified as reserves unless there is an expectation that the accumulation will be developed and placed on production within a reasonable timeframe. It is recognised that all petroleum-initially-in-place quantities may constitute potentially recoverable resources since the estimation of the proportion which may be recoverable can be subject to significant uncertainty and will change with variations in commercial circumstances, technological developments and data availability. A portion of those quantities classified as unrecoverable may become recoverable resources in the future as commercial circumstances change, technological developments occur, or additional data are acquired. Figure: Resources Classification Framework. It has been circulated that Chevron has sold their share to a China Company in that case price estimation will not be issue for Bangladesh if Government accepts their decision.  However, if have any scope for Bangladesh to purchase this asset might have steps very carefully on asset evaluation. Need to mention here US based Unocal sold their total worldwide asset to Chevron at only US$18.5 billion in 2007 and Unocal’s business in Bangladesh was also very small part of this sell. Through careful and precise estimation of asset value it will be good and beneficial decision for Bangladesh to purchase this hydrocarbon rich region.    Rezaul Kabir is a petroleum geologist and an international oil & gas exploration specialist.  
Category: Opinion
How sustainable are energy sources for Bangladesh?
February 24, 2017 Friday 12:27 PM By Dr. Badrul Imam
Bangladesh stands at a turning point of major change in its energy and power sectors. This is a change from a long drawn indigenous natural gas based mono-energy status  to one  with multiple energy mix  that will include natural gas, LNG, coal, cross boarder power, nuclear, solar and fuel oil. Most of the above energy will be imported and therefore the country will also change to predominantly import dependent for its energy sources. How resilient are these energy sources or how sustainable are these for Bangladesh?  Bangladesh has been for a long time, fueling its homes, its industries, it power plants with  indigenous natural gas available  at $2 to $3 per unit from national and international oil companies (IOCs) respectively.  LNG from the international market will land at $8 per unit for now and its price is likely to go up to $14 per unit or even higher depending on the upward moving oil price in future. It is perhaps a good policy to introduce limited LNG to make up for the present gas deficit for an immediate solution to gas crisis. But introduction of large volume of LNG for long period of time into the Bangladesh gas grid may have a risk of price shock by raising the cost of electricity, industrial products or the household gas use. How would the purchasing power of the people play against the LNG induced raised gas price is a question the economists will answer perhaps. An alternating option of tackling the gas crisis is to go for rigorous gas exploration. Unfortunately   exploration remains at its minimum for almost a decade now. Less than 10 exploration wells have been drilled over the last ten years, and this is anything but a serious program under any standard. Therefore no significant addition to the gas reserve could be made. The present remaining reserve of 13 Tcf gas would run out in about a decade should an average consumption of 1 to 1.5 Tcf per year is taken. However, geological analyses suppose that significant new gas could be found by further exploration specially in the offshore. The deep offshore area is yet to see a single drilling and considering the fact that the Myanmar offshore area adjacent to the maritime boundary with Bangladesh has seen significant gas discoveries lately, the prospects of similar gas finds are expected at the Bangladesh side of the Bay of Bengal. Coal has been in the back yard in the energy mix in Bangladesh to this day with only about 2% contribution as fuel for power generation. However, the large scale coal based power hubs being planned and implemented are going to change the power skyline in near future. It is projected that coal contribution in power generation will increase from 2% today to 35% in about a decade. Traditionally Bangladesh has a low carbon footprint in the world stage and the above increase in coal consumption is unlikely to change that considering the way coal is being consumed in many other countries including neighboring India and China. But large scale coal use near ecological sensitive areas like the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, makes certain coal projects in Bangladesh controversial.  There has been unified protest by the national and international environmentalist and experts against the Rampal coal fired power plant being built close to the Sundarbans.   Solar energy has a very small share in the present energy mix in Bangladesh, less than 2 %. Yet in one count solar has a success story. Bangladesh hosts the fastest growing solar home system (SHS) in the world with 60,000 SHS units being installed per month. Cumulative SHS account for about 450 MW power, a small fraction of total power generation capacity of 15,000 MW in the country, but its contribution is enormous in socially uplifting millions of people by raising their standard of living by providing solar electricity who would never have grid electricity. Lighting off-grid home by solar is one thing and providing energy feed to a large mass of people aspiring for rapid industrialization is different. This is a bigger challenge. Government targets to generate 10% of its power by solar by 2021, a target most observers believe will not be fulfilled considering the pace of developments of the solar projects. Rooppur was originally planned for a 150 MW nuclear power plant. The merit of establishing a 2,400 MW plant instead,  have been  judged by many as too hasty a job for which the country has no technical experience of its own. Controversy over the disposal of radioactive spent fuel has made an additional concern for Bangladesh nuclear power project.  Bangladesh has entered into cross border energy trade for the first time with notable success. Bangladesh began power import from India, 500 MW from west Bengal and 100 MW from Tripura in 2015 and 2016 respectively with options of further increasing the amount in near future. Bangladesh has a target of 8,500 MW of cross border power import by 2030 according to the revised PSMP 2016.  There are three areas of hydropower generation which Bangladesh may target for future power import – Bhutan, Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh India. Bhutan has a hydropower potential of 30,000 MW, only 5% of which has been developed. Bhutan has been a power trading partner with India for several years and presently export about 70% of the its  1500 MW hydropower to India after meeting domestic consumption. Under an agreement with India an additional 10,000 MW of electricity will be developed and exported to India by 2020. The financing of Bhutanese hydropower installation by India who buy the same power make a win-win situation for both India (a source of power) and Bhutan (a source of revenue). Nepal has a hydropower potential of 40000 MW, but has a generating capacity of 1000 MW with a peak demand of 1385 MW. India has several large hydropower projects on construction and plan to make Nepal meet its demand and import the surplus. Interestingly public and private investment has emerged as a new practice in cross border power trade like Nepal’s Arun III (900 MW), Upper Kurnali (900 MW) and Marsyangdi (600 MW) under construction projects.        The point to make here is that there are cross boarder energy trade running between India-Nepal and India-Bhutan on bilateral agreements and the future potential of these are huge.  Bangladesh should also open up its power trade in a large scale with Bhutan and Nepal, taking India on board for multi lateral agreement.   The SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation, signed in Kathmandu summit in 2014 would facilitate electricity trade among the SAARC countries. This has created an opportunity for the member countries to import or export electricity through bilateral or multilateral agreements.  Bangladesh missed an opportunity of having a reliable supply of cross border pipeline gas when it rejected the India-Bangladesh-Myanmar tri-nation gas pipe line proposal in 2005.  If Bangladesh had entered into a negotiation it could have availed part of the offshore gas from Myanmar going to India via pipeline through its territory. The much talked about TAPI (Turkmenstan-Afganistan-Pakistan-India) or IPI (Iran Pakistan-India) trans-national gas pipeline projects are yet to take off and their implementation are intricately related to political and military strategy. Bangladesh should join the club of TAPI or IPI projects for a long term gas security if and when these projects are materialized.  Dr.  Badrul Imam is an energy expert and professor of Geology of Dhaka University. 
Category: Opinion
Is energy-subsidization fostering energy crisis in Bangladesh?
January 23, 2017 Monday 10:43 PM By Muntasir Murshed
Energy, in this contemporary era, is considered to be one of the utmost important inputs which is tapped in production of all goods and services in an economy. Thus, its contribution to the economy as a whole cannot be denied. In addition, the concept of energy security, whereby a minimum sustainable supply of energy is to be made accessible to a broader segment of the society, is brought under the lime light. Moreover, clean and affordable energy access across the globe has recently been enlisted in the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declared by the United Nations. Thus, energy and its sustainability should be a matter of priority when it boils down to adoption of public policies that are in line with economic development of underdeveloped nations in particular. However, provision of energy subsidies may hamper attainment of energy security in countries that are striving to embrace development in the near future. Energy price is considered to be a crucial macroeconomic determinant since it attributes to widespread economic activities. Thus, sudden changes in energy prices may affect an economy adversely if adaptive measures are not taken in due time. The effects of changes in energy prices on real economic activities can be understood from both demand and supply side channels. As per the demand side is concerned, a rise in energy prices is synonymous to a fall in demand of other goods and services by a household. This happens because as price of energy increases and there is less scope for reduction in minimum energy consumption, the household is forced to reallocate its fixed disposable income from non-energy to energy expenditure. On the flip side of the coin, the supply side hinges on the argument that as energy prices goes up, the cost of production of goods and services go up as well. As a result, producers are compelled to cut down on their output levels and operate at below capacities which in turn have a negative impact on supply of goods and services in the economy. Developing energy-importing countries like Bangladesh are vulnerable to world energy price shocks. For instance, Bangladesh imports oils from developed nations in order to generate electricity, the most important form of energy used in the nation. As a result, a surge in world oil prices is likely to raise input costs for industries in Bangladesh which eventually may lead to fall in outputs and a simultaneous rise in domestic price levels. It has been acknowledged worldwide that higher oil price may eventually lower income levels in underdeveloped nations. Thus, in order to protect the economies from such shocks the governments in the less developed countries resort to provision of energy subsidies, artificially keeping energy prices low. Although such measures to combat the atrocity of energy price shocks are required to some extent, provision of subsidies in the energy sector usually generate negative impacts on the economy which in the long run can even outweigh the nominal short run benefits. Subsidizing energy prices is considered to be a crucial policy tool amongst governments of developing countries and at times such policy moves are also stimulated by political motives. Energy subsidies in Bangladesh are both directly and indirectly extended to producers and consumers whereby the subsidies lower the cost of energy inputs and raises revenues for the producers while it also reduces the price paid by the end consumers as well. In Bangladesh, energy subsidies are specifically provided in the form of direct subsidies, equity injections, artificial fixation of retail energy prices, natural gas purchase, concessional power sector loan financing from national budget, preferential tax treatments, and distribution channel subsidization. Government intervention in the energy sector can depress macroeconomic indicators within an economy. Thus, the governments in the developed nations purposively abstain from intervening into the associated markets letting energy prices automatically adjust by responding to the market forces of energy demand and supply. Conversely, in developing countries like Bangladesh, the government intervenes into the market subsidizing energy prices and keeping it below the market price which in turn mitigates competition within the energy sector. Energy subsidies depress economic growth and development via numerous channels. Firstly, provision of subsidies in the energy market distorts energy equilibrium energy prices whereby the prices set do not reflect the true costs. Due to this absence of cost-reflective price, there is usually inefficient and over-use of energy which is contradictory to economic growth attainment. Moreover, over consumption of imported fuels at subsidized prices may also lead to deterioration in the nation’s balance of payments and cannot alleviate the nation’s dependence on such imported fuels. For example, following world oil price hike in the 1970s the Bangladesh government decided to reduce the use of imported liquid petroleum products for its electricity generation and to replace it with indigenous natural gas. In order to do so, the government subsidized natural gas price and offered it, at a price that was below the supply cost, for electricity generation. Although such a step reduced electricity generation costs by one-sixth of the imported oil-fired electricity costs, it ensured adverse consequences on the nation’s natural gas reserve. This was because of the absence of cost-reflective price of natural gas whereby excessive amount of gas was used to generate electricity. As a result, the nation is currently facing acute gas shortages and its natural gas reserve, at the current usage and exploration rates, is likely to be exhausted by 2031. Had the market price of natural gas reflected the true cost, its usage would have been efficient which would have ensured a sustainable natural gas supply for a longer period of time. An acute natural gas shortage stifles the power plants and forces them to produce below their installed capacities. In addition to this, provision of excessive subsidies in the energy market also creates disincentives for investment in the energy sector and also holds back energy infrastructure development goals. This is because low energy prices would mean lower profits for energy producers who are price takers and cannot charge prices higher than that set by the government. With sustainable energy and its security in focus, investment in the energy sector is the most important macroeconomic tool which requires utmost attention. No stones should ideally be unturned in boosting energy sector investments but provision of subsidies may well work against such an agenda. Moreover, energy subsidies also hamper energy resource diversification drives. Transition from use of non-renewable energy to greater use of renewable energy is a tested solution to attainment of energy security in developing countries like Bangladesh. However, subsidization of prices of traditional energy resources makes sure that the price of renewable energy stays at a relatively higher level compared to the non-renewable energy price. As a result, fuel diversification, etc are overlooked putting the nation’s energy security to the sword. For instance, per unit cost of electricity produced from solar power is way less than that produced by imported oils. However, commercial transition from oil-based electricity generation framework to solar power requires hefty investments especially in the form of research and development. With energy prices being artificially kept low, such investments do not seem to be worthwhile for power producers and as a result energy diversification stays limited only on pen and paper. An indirect negative impact of energy subsidy is possible crowding out of growth enhancing public spending. In Bangladesh, the total amount government revenue spent on energy subsidies was around 1.9 billion US dollars by the end of the fiscal year 2013 which is almost 1.6% of the nation’s GDP. In addition, the shares of energy subsidies on the government’s total development expenditure and total tax revenues have also experienced rising trends. Therefore, if these subsidy payments were channeled to be invested in other growth enhancing sectors like health, education, etc then the nation would have not only benefitted more in terms of economic growth, but would have also been at a better position in terms of attainment of energy security. Underscoring the necessity of achieving energy security and ensuring a sustainable supply of energy to be accessed by the future generation, it is ideal for the government of all developing countries to gradually reduce and get over the provision of energy subsidies for greater macroeconomic benefits. An energy subsidy distorts energy prices leading to inefficient resource allocations whereby putting the economy in to jeopardy. Moreover, subsidizing policies aimed at helping the poorer segment of the society and enhancing the overall economic welfare level are ineffective as benefits of such subsidy provisions are enjoyed by the wealthier segment of the society. Thus, it is ideal for the government to refrain from excessive intervention into the energy markets and to adopt appropriate public policies to enhance completion within the aforementioned sector. Prevalence of cost-reflective energy prices could well be a possible step towards achieving energy security in the underdeveloped nations which would in turn complement to the Sustainable Development Goals.  Muntasir Murshed is a BS Graduate in the field of Economics from North South University, Bangladesh.
Category: Opinion
Achievements and failures of power and energy sector in Bangladesh
December 29, 2016 Thursday 7:30 PM By Saleque Sufi
Bangladesh government on December 8, 2016 celebrated achieving 15,000 MW power generation installed capacity with fancy fireworks at Hatirjheel area in Dhaka.   Government achieved noticeable success in confronting chronic power load-shedding that it inherited. But concerns are now being raised about sustainability of success for continued fuel supply crisis. The proven reserve of natural gas is fast depleting. The exploration for new resource is not giving confidence of major success in less than 8-10 years. Exploitation of discovered coal resource is stuck in political indecision.  Bangladesh is walking the wrong route of exclusive reliance on imported fuel without required home works. All these are leading the long-term energy security to deep uncertainties. It is not installed capacity, what matters is actual generation and quality of supply to end users. The 15,000 MW includes 2,300 MW off-grid captive power generation exclusive for use in industries, 3,000 MW liquid fuel-based contingency power supposed to be phased out by this time and 600 MW import from India. Grid connected generation capacity is about 12,780 MW. For various reasons ranging from fuel deficit, transmission distribution networks constraints actual generation averages 8,300-8,500 MW. Only on one occasion on June 30, 2016 during peak hours’ actual generation touched 9,032 MW. Having said these there is no reason why the creditable achievements of the present government over the past eight years in increasing power generation and disciplining the sector can go unnoticed. But side by side to success there have been some failures which creates genuine doubts about sustainability of success. The nation was suffering from chronic power load-shedding and gas supply crisis in 2009 when present government came to power in the last term. The installed generation capacity at end 2008 was 4,942 MW and highest generation achieved during peak hours of summer 2008 was 3,500 MW. The average power demand at that time was about 6,000 MW. Eight to ten hours’ unpleasant load- shedding in summer days was causing unbearable miseries. From that position achieving installed capacity of 15,080 MW and average generation of 8,300-8,500 MW is no mean achievement. The access to power has also increased from 49% in 2008 to 78% (off grid solar power supply included) in end 2016 is also a major achievement. Reduction of system loss to 13% is also a major achievement. The present power generation and supply situation is much better than what it used to be in 2008. But at the same time gas and fuel supply situation is in deep crisis. Failure of a political government in exploiting own superior coal resource and utilise this as priority option for power generation is frustrating. If mining applying appropriate mining method could be started at Phulbari and Barapukuria and simultaneously mine moth power plants could be set up about 4,000 MW new power could be available by now.  For reasons, unknown government relied exclusively of capacity hamstrung Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (BAPEX) for onshore gas exploration. Experts believe that engaging international oil company (IOCs) through production sharing contract (PSC) in onshore frontier areas by 2010 about 5tcf new gas could be discovered. Government even delayed in selecting joint venture partner for BAPEX for further exploring four identified structures in the greater Chittagong area. If done in 2012 gas crisis in Chittagong could be partially mitigated by now. IOCs did not carry out any exploration over the last several years. Australian company Santos operated Shangu gas field completed depleted. USA based Conoco-Philips after wasting several holding some offshore blocks with a ploy for improving their portfolio in money market left without conducting any exploration. Indian company ONGC and Santos are now due to start some exploration soon. Apart from that Petrobangla and South Korean Posco Daewoo International Corporation are set signing PSC in offshore. The financial and fiscal incentives of Model PSC of Bangladesh are not considered attractive to IOCs for making risk investment in the offshore areas.  Bangladesh deep water areas in newly acquired vast areas of the Bay of Bengal does not have even primary data. Petrobangla initiative for data acquisition through engaging contractor for multi-client survey got road blocked by Ministry of Energy and Prime Minister’s office.  Moreover, global oil price crash also acted as a dis-incentive for major IOCs. Power Cell, a think tank of the Power Ministry, now is working on updating PSC engaging consultant. In this situation exploration activities in the deep water may not start in less than two years from now. Fruits from any success may take eight to ten years. Experts observe that Chevron was given almost free hands in expanding gas production at their highest limit.  Consequently, Bibiyana gas field became backbone of gas supply. It has started depleting alarmingly. Chevron recovering major investment is now planning to leave relinquishing depleting gas fields. Bangladesh in a desperate bid to increase reserve adopted 108 wells including 53 exploration wells drilling program in 5 years for capacity hamstrung BAPEX. It is impossible to do that by even a major IOCs anywhere in the world. Now after wasting several months Russian Energy giant Gazprom is being given opportunity based on their unsolicited offer for partnering with BAPEX. Gazprom engaged sub-contractor did a very poor works of 10 wells drilling in the recent past. Like the other side of bright moon there are major failures also. Government over eight years have miserably failed to expand gas reserve base and take political decision of mining own superior quality coal. About 9 tcf of proven gas reserve has been used against which only about 1 tcf new gas reserve could be added. Government did nothing at all to exploit the four billion discovered own coal resource. The liquid fuel based power generation adopted as short term contingency action still being relied for contributing 28% of present power generation capacity. All such plants were supposed to be phased out by now. The fast depletion of reaming gas resource at 1 tcf annually has already made long term energy security vulnerable. Over the past eight years not even 10 exploration wells could be drilled. BAPEX with very limited capacity of its own explored and developed some marginal gas fields but compared to huge demand of gas these were tiny little. Petrobangla still supplies 900 -1,000 mmcfd gas to power. If used in fuel efficient power generation this could generate 5,500 -6,000 MW. But the repowering program of fuel inefficient ageing power plants is also moving at snail’s pace. The depleting scenario of own gas reserve and indecision of mining own coal in the childish excuses of protecting farming land and water management forced government going for imported coal and fuel generation option. That option requires huge investments for developing enabling infrastructure, a large contingent of qualified and competent human resources for managing coal and LNG supply chain, project management and operation, appropriate pricing structure and above all vastly improved energy and power sector governance. For lack of all these most of the imported fuel based mega power projects are running years behind schedule. PSMP 2010 had envisioned a fuel mix for 50% contribution of coal for generating 40,000 MW power in 2030. About 30% of this was planned to come from local coal. For reasons best known to senior policy maker’s local coal mining was ignored giving exclusive emphasis on imported coal. The under approval process PSMP 2015 provides a fuel mix of 3%% from coal (almost exclusively imported coal), 35% LNG and Gas and 30% from Nuclear, Power Import and Renewable. The contribution of coal in end 2016 is not even 2%. Bangladesh is set to become over 90% reliant on imported fuel for generating power by 2030 is it cannot mine its own coal and discover some major gas reserve soon. Global and regional geo politics, very expensive and technologically intensive infrastructure development required for import of coal and LNG would make fuel import very challenging. Volatile global market would make fuel price unsustainable and therefore cause power generation cost go beyond affordable limit. Moreover, present state of governance and lack of required competent manpower would make implementation of several imported fuel based mega projects extremely challenging. One of the major setback of present government over the past eight years is Petrobangla failing to carry out required exploration for new gas resources. The depleting scenario of own gas resources was evidenced in early 2000. Still no initiative was taken to explore in onshore and offshore for new gas. Amateur top management of Petrobangla made energy sector operation comical. Policy makers were misguided about presence of huge gas resource in unprofessional manner after conducting seismic surveys only. Huge unnecessary investments were made in gas transmission infrastructure. LNG import initiative rightly taken in 2010 failed to achieve success in six years. The present production capacity of 2,750 mmcfd is expected to reduce sharply from 2019 for rapid depletion of major producing fields. The present actual deficit is 1000 mmcfd which may become even more in 2019 when the first delivery of 500 mmcfd LNG may be available. How that will meet the deficit? The land based LNG terminal in Bangladesh will require very expensive works of either reclaiming land from the sea or taking coastal areas into the sea through massive dredging. Finally, for managing Coal and LNG supply chain management Bangladesh requires a very competent work force. Most of the imported fuel based mega power projects are running years behind schedule. Only two projects – Rampal Power plant and NWPGCL plant at Payera are advancing with expectation for commercial operation by 2020. Even those have many challenges especially coal transportation. Mega projects at Maheskhali and Matarbari have travel through rough rides. We are not sure that entrepreneurs of other imported coal fired power projects inland are at all aware of the challenges of coal transportation. Pricing is another matter which poses huge challenge. If, we consider the example of LNG. Is there any home work at what price LNG converted gas would be supplied? Or has any one done any works on power pricing absorbing all costs of infrastructure and modern technology planned for imported coal use? We won’t be discussing multi-billion dollar Nuclear Power plant project here. People talk about power import from Bhutan and Nepal. Such talks are going on since late 1990s and may continue in foreseeable future also. Regional geo politics apart from anything else is a major challenge. Bangladesh could make headway in renewable energy use and energy efficiency. But here also talks are more than works. Solar home system is a major achievement. Roof top solar need incentives. Energy efficiency initiatives require comprehensive action plans. All that appearing like rainbow now in energy and power sector may blow with the wind soon if government fail to appreciate the challenges at hand and emerging. Hope 2017 will witness revolutionary changes. Saleque Sufi is an energy expert.                
Category: Opinion
Challenges of transition in developing energy sector in Bangladesh
December 23, 2016 Friday 4:35 PM By Dr. Badrul Imam
Bangladesh stands at a cross road of transition from an under developed power and energy sector to a more developed one with aspiration of becoming a middle income country. With a per capita energy use of 214 kgoe the country trails far behind its neighbours India (606 kgoe), Thailand (1988 kgoe), Malaysia (3020 kgoe), not to mention the robust developed nations. While the government’s mega projects in the energy and power developments are generally well conceived, there are major challenges that need to be addressed. A major challenge presently faced by Bangladesh is to ensure primary energy supply in order to run the mega scale power projects and fast growing industrial installations. In the face of a fast depleting gas reserve and a lack of initiative to develop local coal, achieving a sustainable local primary energy source becomes increasingly hard. A consequence of the above will be an increase of dependence on imported energy. While in 2010, the share of local natural gas in power generation was about 89%, it is projected  that natural gas may contribute about 25% of the power generation in 2030 (PSMP 2010). In the medium to long term future the local energy sources are likely to be replaced by imported fuels including coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil. In one estimate Bangladesh may have 90% dependence on imported energy sources by the year 2030. The present downward trend of prices of oil, LNG and coal is likely to be short lived and will bounce back to their original or even higher positions. Therefore long term dependence on imported fuel for most of its requirement will introduce stress on the economy, will increase prices of industrial products including electricity and import inflation. The government’s power sector vision aspires to achieve a generation capacity of 24,000 MW by 2021 with aim of providing all with electricity. The most important challenge in the way of its successful implementation is an uncertainty of a sustainable cost effective primary energy supply. The remaining gas reserve of Bangladesh may run out in about a decade considering the increasing gas demand.  The government plans to resolve the crisis by adopting diversification in the fuel mix including coal, gas, LNG, oil, nuclear, cross border electricity and renewables. While such move is correct and justified, certain terms are questionable. Thus the policy to go for massive scale coal import rather than local coal development is debated. A similar issue of debate is the stand on long term import of large volume of LNG instead of making serious drive for local gas exploration. Major exploration for hydrocarbon has not been undertaken in the country for more than a decade and little gas reserve could be added to the reserve base. There has been a lack of policy decision to prioritize gas exploration. In spite of the fact that a large ocean area has now been claimed by the government as undisputed following the verdict of international court, there has been too little activity in the Bangladesh offshore. Yet on the other side of offshore boundary, Myanmar has been registering significant gas discoveries since the boundary dispute was settled in 2012. One of the late discoveries, named Thalin gas field, occur in Myanmar gas block AD-7 just across the maritime boundary with Bangladesh. Interestingly the offshore Rakhain Basin of Myanmar where the late gas discoveries are being made is a geologic continuation of the south-eastern offshore Bangladesh. Geologists are therefore pointedly suggesting that the latter area would be equally gas prospective as the former. Unfortunately the Bangladesh offshore sees too little exploration to prove it right. There has been little clarity of the causes of delays to kick start multi-client seismic survey in the Bangladesh offshore, a program conceived more than two years ago but could hardly start. The onshore exploration in Bangladesh likewise could be called anything but serious with only 6 exploratory wells drilled in the last 10 years. All the 24 gas field discoveries onshore since 1955 fall in what is known  as conventional ‘structural types’ prospects.  Further categories of ‘less conventional’ and ‘unconventional prospects’ are yet to explore in Bangladesh. Known as stratigraphic prospect, synclinal prospects and tight gas prospects, these have been proved gas bearing in the adjacent Tripura and Assam district in India. This means similar discoveries await in Bangladesh should targeted explorations are launched. The above explanation leads to the conclusion that gas exploration in Bangladesh is yet to reach a mature stage and further explorations are required before the true gas potentials of the country is known. In the above context the logic of going for large volume of LNG import on a long term basis may be questionable. The single LNG terminal being built off Chittagong is justified in the sense that an immediate and a near term gas crisis may be overcome by replacement LNG. But in the long term serious gas exploration would most likely offer Bangladesh reasonable amount of new gas.  A costly long term LNG solution involving multiple onshore and offshore LNG terminals for large volume of LNG feed is not the best option before exhausting yet to discover gas reserves in the country.   Coal is going to be the prime fuel for power generation in Bangladesh in the 20s and beyond. The six or more large scale (1300 MW each) coal fired power plants planned and being actively pursuit at present are to be fed totally by imported coal. The coal power plant’s demand is expected to increase from the present 0.6 million ton coal per year to  18 million ton in 2025 and to 30 million ton in 2030. While these will generate significant electricity, the 100% dependence on imported coal will raise the power price. Bangladesh has reasonable reserve of shallow mineable coal in the Dinajpur and Rangpur districts. But development of national coal resource has been slow and takes a back seat in national policy planning. The option of building mine mouth coal based power plants in the north Bengal has not received the attention these deserve. Four known coal fields in the north Bengal could develop underground mines to reasonably support 1000 MW capacity power plants each. A combined source of local and imported coal would suite the economy better than relying totally on imported coal. There has been a phenomenal growth of solar home system (SHS) in Bangladesh over the last decade. The rate of growth of SHS has set a world record with over 4 million household having SHS by 2016. Although the cumulative solar power amounts to 190 MW (2.5% of country’s total power generation), it has brought enormous social benefit by lightening a very large mass of rural population who would never have grid electricity. The reduction of cost of solar installation has set a better prospect of this technology to play more significant role in near future. In the long term future, Bangladesh has to look beyond its border for energy options. Cross border energy import either in the form of natural gas or in the form of electricity could well be major sources of energy. Bangladesh has already opened up a cross border electricity import trade with India and this could grow in coming years. In this respect the hydro electricity import option from Bhutan and Nepal, has been merited highly. Both Nepal and Bhutan have enormous prospect of hydro power development and Bangladesh should take the opportunity to join the neighbours to implement an action plan whereby hydropower could be imported. Bangladesh lost an opportunity of getting cross border pipeline gas from Myanmar when it decline to accept a Tri-nation (Myanmar-India-Bangladesh) gas pipeline agreement in 2005. The present stand-still status of transnational gas pipeline projects of either TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) or IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) may change to a more fast moving activity depending upon international politics. However should any of these projects get off the ground Bangladesh could get a very long term gas security if she can join the team of transnational gas traders. To conclude, it may be pointed out that Bangladesh is set to increase its energy and power supply very significantly in near future in line with increased demands. For this to happen, a secure supply of primary energy need to be ensured. The government plans to use imported coal, oil and LNG to fuel the system and this will come at a cost. An over dependence on imported fuel may offset the economic balance with consequence that power and the industrial products will come at a higher price.  Development of indigenous energy resources should be considered to maximum possible level before a wholly import based energy supply system is undertaken. A strong gas exploration program specially in the offshore could still change the way Bangladesh expects to achieve a secure energy supply. Dr.  Badrul Imam is an energy expert and professor of Geology of Dhaka University.  
Category: Opinion
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