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Dhaka Friday,  May 14, 2021

Payra Coal Fired Power Project: Success to End Coal Debate

Eminent local and diaspora energy experts put high importance on extraction of coal resources of the country. Appreciating timely implementation of Payra coal fired power plant, they said, debate on coal will come to an end once people know more about the success of the coal fired power. Taking part in the discussion Mr. Nasrul Hamid, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources said, those who have created issues, mislead people giving wrong information about coal project, and put the project in challenges, should welcome to visit the plant to experience how the plant is being running maintaining various environmental aspects.

They were speaking in a webinar on Saturday titled “EP Talks: Payra Power Plant: An Example of Timely Execution” organized by Energy & Power. Mr. Nasrul Hamid MP, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources was attended as the chief guest. The webinar was also addressed by eminent energy expert Prof. M Tamim, Professor Firoz Alam, energy expert Khondoker Salek Sufi, BPDB chairman Eng. Belayet Hossain, North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL) Managing Director & CEO A. M. Khurshedul Alam, mining engineer Dr. Mushfiqur Rahman, Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain, and Dr. Kazi Bayzid Kabir, BUET.

Shah Abdul Moula Helal, Project Director, Payra coal fired power plant made the presentation while Mollah Amzad Hossain, Editor, Energy & Power chaired and moderated the webinar.

Initiating the discussion Mollah Amzad said, we usually cannot implement large project in time. However, Payra coal fired power project is an exception and set a milestone for timely implementation.

Shah Abdul Maula Helal, Project Director, Payra coal fired power plant in his presentation said, the project is a success story but there are still some challenges in coal transportation and power evacuation.

Dr. Kazi Bayzid Kabir, Associate Prof. BUET said, this project has created a path for coal fired power plant in the country and lot will depend on the success for future coal fired power. It is also important to disseminate the success story of coal fired power properly to eliminate unnecessary fear about coal. There will be no debate on coal once people understand the role of coal fired power in the economy of the country, he added.

Mining engineer, Dr. Mushfiqur Rahman said, it seems from the coal based projects in the pipeline that Bangladesh will need to import 20 million tonnes of coal annually within few years. However, insufficient import infrastructure coupled with tendency of rapid siltation in the offshore areas is going to make this a costly venture. Therefore, we need to focus on own coal to keep open an alternative supply chain. He said, we need to take immediate initiative for extraction of high quality coal deposits in the northern region of the country; otherwise will risk falling in the trap of international coal trade and import infrastructure barriers.

Energy expert Khondhoker Abdus Salek Sufi said, it is a milestone project and can be exemplary to other projects. Those who have different views on coal fired power plant will relieve most of their concerns. He said, own coal needs to be extracted and transported using railway system; the capacity of Matarbari coal port also need to be expanded to face the challenges of coal transportation. If coal cost increases due higher transportation cost, it wouldn’t be possible to get low cost power from coal.

Eng. Belayet Hossain, Chairman of Bangladesh Power Development Board said, although capacity cost of Ultra Super Critical Coal based power plant is high, in the long run it is profitable. While the energy cost for oil based power plant is 8 to 8.50 taka, the same for coal fired power plant is 2.50 taka. As our gas is depleting fast and also energy is import dependent, so it is not the right approach to depend on mono fuel.  Therefore, along with LNG based power, coal based power project is the best alternative for us.

Prof. M. Tamim appreciated timely implementation of the project and proper resettlement of the affected people. Regarding transportation of own coal to ensure supply, he said, I don’t find any logic to transport coal to so far distances. It is better to establish coal fired power plant at the mine mouth if we decide extraction of own coal. Import infrastructure will be a big challenge for the government to implement its plan for coal fired power projects, he added.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Mr. Nasrul Hamid MP said, Payra project has been completed within 21 months. It is an example for implementation of large projects in the country. Regarding extraction of own coal, he said, we have recently completed feasibility study of Dighipara coal field. The study shows only 10% of coal can be extracted using underground mining method, which is not feasible. In Barapukuria, we are slowly extracting coal, about 4/5 thousand tonnes and not possible to extraction more. So I think considering these studies the hope is slim to establish large coal based power plants at the mine mouth based on own coal. It is also almost impossible to transport own coal extracted by underground mining method using the railway system and better not to consider. We are now planning for future how to generate low cost uninterrupted power using mix fuels.

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