To implement the government’s plan of providing electricity in every household, state-owned organisation Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is working relentlessly.
Private sector has also been incorporated in electricity generation along with the government to materialize that dream.
At present, around half of the country’s electricity is being produced from the private sector. It only becomes possible because of the harmonious functioning between the public and private sectors.
The incumbent Chairman of BPDB Engr Md Shamsul Hasan Miah has long been working with the producers of electricity in private sector.
This seasoned power sector professional recently sat with energynewsbd.com editor Aminur Rahman and talked about several issues including the role of private sector in producing electricity and the government’s plan of providing electricity to every household.
energynewsbd.com: BPDB has been providing service to its customers for nearly half a century. You are involved with this organisation for more than 35 years. How do you evaluate the activities of the BPDB?
Md Shamsul Hasan Miah: BPDB started its journey in May 1 of 1972. During that time, BPDB was the lone organisation to generate, transmit and distribute electricity.
In course of time when the needs had arisen, separate companies were formed to serve those purposes-electricity generation, transmission and distribution-separately.
However, as of now, BPDB is still looking after the whole electricity generation scenario. Along with that, it has been supplying electricity to some areas as well. The transmission of electricity is conducted by a company of BPDB though.
The main achievement of BPDB is that around 76% area of the country now has been brought under electricity.
The government declares that it will provide electricity to every household by 2021. BPDB and other related organisations with the power sector are trying to complete that task by 2018. We hope that we will be able to do so by that time.
energynewsbd.com: How much do you think the success can be achieved by forming companies in the power sector?
Shamsul Hasan: This is a matter of the government policy. However, success comes if there are tuneful initiatives. These companies could be taken to a new height if they are run with proper and skilled management.
The state-owned companies under the jurisdiction of BPDB and government are doing well right now. Time has come to properly monitor and regulate their activities to bring out better performance.
“The state-owned companies under the jurisdiction of BPDB and government are doing well right now. Time has come to properly monitor and regulate their activities to bring out better performance.”
energynewsbd.com: A large part of electricity in the country comes from private power producers or independent power producers (IPP). You have been involved with several IPP projects implementation for long. What is your opinion about the IPP and the entrepreneurs in this sector?
Shamsul Hasan: It is true that around half of the total electricity production of the country comes from the private sector. The government always wants to meet the electricity demand of the people.
Financing of different projects in the power sector is a challenging task. The government alone cannot be able to handle it.
For that reason, the private sector has been involved with power production. Aside from one or two companies, most of the companies in the private sector are producing electricity with efficiency and competency. This is the biggest success in this sector.
Besides, the entrepreneurs in this sector are very brave and intelligent and those aid them in actively participating in the development of the country.
energynewsbd.com: Primary fuel in an important factor in electricity production. The IPPs want to produce electricity through importing diesel and furnace oil. Do you think this will be beneficial for the sector?
Shamsul Hasan: A number of companies are now producing electricity through importing furnace oil. The companies raise complain about the quality of the furnace oil which Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) imports.
That’s why the companies are given the opportunity to import oil for electricity production. There is no scope of castigating that anymore.
Besides, it is quite normal that they will import better quality furnace oil for the smooth operation of their own machines at the power plant. This is better for both the BPDB and the companies.
“Under that initiative, around 70 thousand pre-paid meters have already been installed in the areas under BPDB jurisdiction. Another 1.39 lakh meters will be installed soon. This will reduce system loss as well as prompt efficiency.”
energynewsbd.com: Why coal as a fuel has been given so much priority for the electricity production?
Shamsul Hasan: In one word-the lack of natural gas. The lion share of the country’s electricity still comes from natural gas and state-owned Petrobangla supplies that gas.
Petrobangla has already declared that they will not be able to supply gas for new power plants. But electricity productions cannot be stopped because electricity keeps the wheel of national economy spinning.
For that reason, priority is given on coal because coal will produce electricity in relatively cheaper prices.
There are many cities in the developed countries including Frankfurt of Germany where the coal based power plants are located right inside the city.
Because of the usage of state of the art ultra super critical technology and technologically advanced management, environmental pollutions could be kept well inside the bay.
Even in Barapukria coal based plant in our country, where sub-critical technology is used, there has been no reported incident of environmental degradation there.
There have been plans to produce around 1.4 million MW of electricity in 59 countries by 2035. The most will be produced in India and China.
In Bangladesh, the per-capita carbon consumption in only 0.25 ton whereas in the developed countries, it is around 20 ton. Despite that, the government is determined to keep pollution as low as possible.
energynewsbd.com: Why the speed of electricity production from renewable energy is that slow? What is BPDB’s plan in that regard?
Shamsul Hasan: There are several renewable sources including solar power, water and wind for electricity production. BPDB is mainly working on to produce electricity from solar power.
The main problems with solar based power plant are lands and project costs because to produce one MW of electricity, four acres of land is needed; which means to produce 100 MW of electricity, 400 acres of land is needed.
As of now works are underway to produce 7 MW in Kaptai, 200 MW in Teknaf, 50 MW in Mymensingh and 30 MW in Rangpur from solar power.
Aside from this, plans are being chalked out to bring hydro-electricity from Nepal and Bhutan.
“There have been plans to produce around 1.4 million MW of electricity in 59 countries by 2035. The most will be produced in India and China.”
energynewsbd.com: What is the reason behind importing electricity from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries?
Shamsul Hasan: The government wants to utilize several sources in electricity production. For the construction large plants, the required lands and primary fuels are not aplenty in Bangladesh.
The issue of financing is also involved with this. That’s why electricity is being imported from the government and private sectors of India and in near future, more electricity will be imported.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is already being signed with Adani group of India. Besides, talks have been going on with Reliance and other Indian companies.
energynewsbd.com: Recently, tenders have been floated to establish ten 100 MW power plants in ten places across the country under the private sector initiative. Why this decision is taken?
Shamsul Hasan: A number of power plants have expired and in the next two or three years few more will follow. This plan has been mainly taken to fill up the gap that those plants have left. Besides, because of the shortage of gas now, we do not have any options.
energynewsbd.com: What initiatives have been taken to ensure efficient usage of electricity?
Shamsul Hasan: The power supplying companies including the BPDB are going to implement the pre-paid metering system on a large scale.
Under that initiative, around 70 thousand pre-paid meters have already been installed in the areas under BPDB jurisdiction. Another 1.39 lakh meters will be installed soon. This will reduce system loss as well as prompt efficiency.
energynewsbd.com: The government has given the directive to transform BPDB into a corporation like Petrobangla. What steps have been taken for that?
Shamsul Hasan: As per the directive of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, steps have been taken to transform BPDB into a corporation.
A consultant firm will be appointed to facilitate the process. Already advertisements have been published in the newspaper asking Expression of Interest (EoI) from the interested applicants.
Very soon, the consultant firm will be finalised. Further steps will be taken as per suggestion of the consultant firm.