Energy & Power|August 01 2017

It is 13 years to 2030 when Bangladesh’s energy sector would be 92 percent dependent on import of energy (primary fuel and electricity) in accordance with the government plan. The present government is working on a vision of transforming Bangladesh into a middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041. It thinks that relying on domestic primary fuel, the country cannot achieve the targets. Just a decade ago, Bangladesh was exclusively reliant on own natural gas resource.

Over the passage of time and keeping pace with the demand growth, the production increased but proven reserve progressively diminished. The deficit of gas supply kept on widening. Though the gas production has increased by 1,200 MMCFD over the last eight years of the present government, the demand almost doubled due to multi-dimensional use. Expansion of 100% gas dependent industries and investment has been completely stalled. Absence of required forecast for long term supply of fuel and pricing is acting as disincentive to the investors. Though the government is proceeding with development of specialised economic zone with pledges for required energy supply, yet it is not being clearly said how and at what price the fuel would be supplied. Especially the government is not telling anything about energy pricing in the future. The government is repeatedly changing the dateline of quality power supply as a replacement of gas supply. The government is working on plans for importing huge volume of LNG for confronting natural gas deficit. On the other hand, power import through cross border trading is also a priority of the present government. Under the circumstance, the government is going to observe the Energy Security Day on August 9, 2017.

To achieve a 7% plus economic growth at a sustainable manner, the power-energy demand would grow at 10% and more till 2030. Energy expert Prof Dr. M Tamim in a recent presentation mentioned that Bangladesh would have to rely 92% on imported primary fuel (Coal, LNG) and power import for achieving its economic development vision. PSMP 2010 set a target for 40,000 MW of power generation by 2030. Coal would contribute around 50% i.e. 20,000 MW. Natural gas and LNG were set to contribute another 25%. Again 50% more of the coal based power was supposed to come from local coal. The government has in the meantime retreated from that plan. A new Power System Master Plan 2016 has been formulated for generation target up to 2041. Achieving 57,000 MW is set as a new target in the under-consideration PSMP 2016. Some 35% each of the new target would come from coal, gas and LNG. Almost the entire coal power in this new plan would come from imported coal. The government has adopted this strategy of nowexploiting own coal resource on excuse of serving the interest of agriculture and protecting environment. This single decision has driven Bangladesh towards imported fuel dependence. This is completely turning around from Bangabandhu ’s energy vision. Dr Tawf iq -E -E l ah i Chowdhury, Energy Advisor to the Prime Minister, claimed that there is no political reason behind not exploiting the local coal. This decision has been taken into account environment and water management risks. But the government will consider coal exploration if appropriate technology is introduced in future. Dr Ahsan Mansoor, executive director of Policy Research Institute, at a recent seminar of DCCI mentioned that the decision on coal reserve exploitation must be done now. Otherwise it will remain buried underground for ever. Experienced mining engineer Dr Mushfiqur Rahman considers that open pit mining is a well proven technology worldwide. It is possible for Bangladesh mining its own superior quality coal adopting this technology ensuring environmental protection.

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