The government will tomorrow celebrate its achievement in increasing the country’s power generation capacity up over to 10,000MW leaving up to 39 per cent of the capacity unused.
According to the data for Friday available with the state-run Power Development Board, the installed power generation capacity is 10,213MW while over 4,000MW of it has no use due to shortage of affordable fuel supply, technical glitches and lost capacity of old plants.
Out of the 10,213MW capacity, over 600MW can not be produced as many power units became old, 1,085MW capacity remained shut due to lack of gas supply and fuel oil and another 1,857MW remained in same condition due to technical glitches.
Out of the 1,085MW capacity, the power units having a combined capacity of 781MW could not run as the state-run Petrobangla failed to supply gas while the remaining capacity was unutilised due to non-supply of expensive fuel oil, the power board daily report said.
‘Such unused capacity for power generation will be increased in the next years if the government fails to ensure affordable fuel supply,’ M Tamim, a professor at Petroleum Engineering Department of BUET told New Age.
He said that the government’s achievement in battling the huge demand for power by the fuel oil-fired power plants was remarkable but, he said, the measure was yet to be proved that it was a sustainable one.
The price of electricity had already shot up for the government’s short-term measure, he added.
The government has also kept the inefficient old power plants as well as the contract-expired plants in the private sector which summed the installed capacity to over 10,000MW, officials said.
The power division is now working on extending the contracts with a number of private sector power suppliers for different which would expire by June 2014.
The government’s desperate move for increasing the number power plants without ensuring the supply of affordable fuel would increase a ‘huge’ financial burden on the people as it would have to pay the charges for the installed capacity in the private sector whether or not it would buy electricity, a power board official said.
‘In one hand, people will not get electricity as per demand but the government will have to pay the charge for installed capacity,’ the official said.
The government, in a bid to increase the capacity in a short time, has awarded the private entrepreneurs to set up 70 power plants with a combined generation capacity of over 9,900MW.
The government represented by the power board paid over Tk 6,000 crore in rentals or capacity charge for power plants installed in the private sector. The private power suppliers were also paid for the electricity they supplied.
Which means, a power board official said, the power board paid Tk 3.24 as capacity charge for buying each kilowatt-hour or unit of electricity from the private supplier.
The amount of capacity charge would be increased in a higher ratio in the next year with respect to the purchased electricity from the private power suppliers.
The government’s unplanned move for increasing the number of power plants had contributed to doubling the power generation cost.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission has increased in six phases the bulk prices of electricity to Tk 4.70 a unit in September 2012 from Tk 2.37 since February 2011 after the government started procuring electricity from the short-term suppliers.
In a chain effect, the commission has raised retail power prices by 43.75 per cent — from Tk 4 a unit to Tk 5.75 a unit — on an average in five phases over the period.
Besides, the government subsidy in power generation has also been increased to Tk 3,850 crore in three years from Tk 900 crore in 2009, according to the commission.
According to the plan, the government will have to double the power generation to offer all to have access to electricity by 2021 in affordable price as over 50 per cent of the population are out of the coverage of grid-supplied electricity.