The government is to import 4,000 Million Cubic Feet (mmcfd) gas per day for the national grid over the next few years keeping in view ensuring energy security in the country.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister`s Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury at a seminar on Saturday.
"Initiative is underway to import 500 mmcfd in the early next year to improve supply of gas by 50 percent in 2018," he said.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) arranged the seminar titled, `Energy Security 2030: Challenges and Opportunities` with its president Abul Kasem Khan in the chair.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources M Tajul Islam was the special guest while Professor of the BUET Dr Mohammad Tamim presented the keynote paper.
The advisor said, "It is necessary to identify the priorities including reliable transportation and distribution network, reduction of system loss to single digit by next year."
He also said that consultation with private sector to understand the affordability of private sector in fixing the energy price blending with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and other primary energy is necessary in this regard.
Chowdhury underscored the use of the waste steam/heat to increase the energy efficiency (about maximum 80% from broiler) in industries focusing on investment in zone planning, adding, "$2.5 billion single largest investment contract was signed for installing 1,320 MW coal fired power plant at Matarbari."
He said the government is also importing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar for mitigating energy demand from next year.
The DCCI president said Bangladesh would be the 30th largest economy with one trillion-dollar GDP having nearly $200 billion of export earnings and per capita income reaching close to $6000 in the next 17 years from now.
"The low-cost production base will not be adequate to qualify Bangladesh as a competitive and attractive investment destination-efficient transportation, modern infrastructure with competitive and reliable energy will become the most crucial elements for Bangladesh to remain competitive in global inventor`s map," he said.
Khan said the current-round of industrial momentum in the country has seen notable development in the power generation sector, increasing electricity generation capacity up to 15,300 MW, contributing to transform the economy.
The demand for energy consumption is driven by growth of industrialization, modernization of agriculture sector, transformation of rural economy, rapid urbanization, and improved standard of living, he said.
The DCCI chief referred to coal as a major source for energy in numerous countries including India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam, where 82 percent of the world`s new coal fired power plants were undertaken as per the report from Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), UK.
By 2041, he said, Bangladesh needs to import 60 million tonnes of coal per year as the country needs to utilize optimum level of her large coal reserve for its energy source having enough reserves to meet energy and power needs for decades to come reducing dependence on imported coal.
Professor Dr M Tamim highlighted some points including the government`s visions to scale-up economic growth over 7 percent for the next 10 years.
"PSMP 2016 developed by JICA- considers SDG goal and the government`s vision stressing on five important areas such as robust infrastructure for primary energy import, domestic energy resource development and efficient use, high quality of robust power system development, advanced development of green energy and policy and human capital development," he said.
He also referred to several studies, which have concluded that wind energy potential in Bangladesh is minimal to zero and the current technology in Bangladesh requires 350-400 acre land for a 100-MW solar plant.
"Shed light on the energy mandate articulated in the SDG 2030 envisioning ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all," Tamim added.
Energy Law and Policy Expert and Chairman, BERC Tribunal Dr Salim Mahmud stated that the government`s focus should have been given on energy policy diversification encompassing Gas, Coal, renewable energy, regional energy trading -at least three decades before.
He appreciated the government`s intervention for de-politicization of the energy price as the gas price does not reflect the opportunity cost, adding, "The gas price focus needs to be given on gas value chain encompassing upstream and downstream exploration."
The Energy policy should have benchmark covering the criteria of contract like long-term contract, mid-term contract and short terms contract, he said.
Engineer Rezwanul Kabeer, Managing Director of ECPV Chittagong, Dr Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director of Policy Research Institute (PRI), Dr Mushfiqur Rahman, Technical Director of Institute Orgenergostroy, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant shared their experiences at the seminar.