Load shedding of power has been rare in the city areas for the last few years but the phenomenon is coming back in Dhaka city - and more so in the rural areas.
The frequency of load shedding and its duration have been increasing with the rise of temperature and humidity. A couple of years ago, the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources celebrated the milestone of 10,000-MW power generation.
Since then addition of more and more power generation capacity has been reported by responsible authorities. But the power supply at the consumer`s end failed to match with the capacity building.
On the other hand, published reports indicate that despite having installed power generation capacity of around 14,500 MW, about 1500-2000 MW power could not be generated due to shortages of primary energy supply.
At the same time, the produced electric energy cannot be distributed to the consumers due to the absence of adequate transmission and distribution networks.
During the very hot late April days of this year, consumer demand was 8,300 MW (as reported on April 25, 2016) and the supply at the evening peak hours was 7,431 MW in the country.
Meanwhile, Rural Electrification Board (REB) sources say that the demand of 72 Palli Biddut Samiti for approximately 1,780 MW remained unmet. As a result, REB customers suffered from serious shortages of power supply.
There are inconsistencies in the reports of various sources related to power supply and load shedding; but sector experts think that a credible estimate the shortage of power supply is approximately 2,000 MW.
During the April hot days, fuel oil supply chain was disturbed as the riverine transportation vessels went on strike for a few days. This was an added trouble but the power shortages are not completely explained by fuel oil supply disruptions for a few days.
Currently, local power generation capacity, ranging 2,500-3,000 MW, has been dependent on fuel oil (present power generation fuel mix comprises of: natural gas 62 per cent, diesel 8.0 per cent, furnace oil 21 per cent, coal 2.0 per cent, Hydro 2.0 per cent and import 5.0 per cent).
The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) reports that the installed capacity for power generation now stands at 12,339 MW (including 600 MW imported power but excluding captive power generation capacity). Some of the power plants have to go through scheduled maintenance from time to time. Thus the total power generation in April was approximately 8,348 MW.
In real terms, approximately 6,635 MW could be supplied to the consumers from the generated power excluding 5.0 per cent auxiliary power consumed by the generation plants, 3.0 per cent transmission loss and 10 per cent distribution losses. Natural gas supply shortage contributed to some generation shortages.
As per the government`s Vision Plan, power generation capacity should reach 24,000 MW within 2021. It implies that within 2021 government needs to ensure additional 9,000MW considering that 15,000 MW power generation capacity will formally be attained in June 2016.
From the projected 9,000 MW power generation, a significant part of the power generation should be met from imported coal-based power plants and from additional power imports from India.
Also, the government plans to add 4,000-4,500 MW gas-based power plants within 2021. In the backdrop of increasing natural gas shortages (currently approximately 1,500 MW power generation shortages are contributed by gas supply shortages), the government plans to import LNG (liquefied natural gas) and intends to meet the gas supply shortages.
During 2000-2015 period approximately 8.26 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) was consumed in the country against the addition of one Tcf gas to the national grid. As a result, the recoverable gas reserve declined rapidly.
But the government has not so far undertaken any comprehensive study to clearly figure out what price impacts are awaiting the power sector if LNG is to substantially fill the domestic gas supply shortages of the sector. Also, delays in the implementation of imported coal-based power plants threaten increasing power supply shortages in the years to come.
Sector experts think that the deviation or unwillingness to implement the Power System Master Plan (PSMP) 2010 has direct link to the systematic power supply shortages.
Moreover, development efforts of primary fuel supply chain have recorded limited success (domestic coal development was ignored and new exploration for natural gas was extremely limited). Now, the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources with the help of international consultants has been reviewing the existing PSMP 2010 and plan to finalise PSMP 2016.
The revised Power System Master Plan (PSMP) is scheduled to be finalised by June 2016 with priority given to power supply dependent mainly on imported coal, fuel oil and imported power and nuclear energy. As reported, the Power Division projected 52,000-MW power demand in the country in 2041 and generation/supply capacity to enhance to 57,000 MW.
The Draft PSMP advocates for 35 per cent (with 1.0 per cent from domestic coal and the balance from import) power to be generated from coal; 35 per cent from natural gas (including with significant contribution of imported LNG); 5.0 per cent from fuel oil (imported) and 25 per cent from nuclear and other sources (including imported power). One of the projections suggests that the new PSMP guidelines will excessively expose our country to international primary energy market and the per unit power generation cost will significantly increase (present average per unit generation cost stands at US cents 6.63/kWh) and may go up to average US cent 10.03/kwh at the customer end.
The pertinent question: is the time appropriate to project power development policies for 2041 in the rapidly changing world?
Dr. Mushfiqur Rahman, The author is a mining engineer and writes on energy and environment issues.
Source: The Financial Express