Staff Correspondent: The fast-track diesel-based power plant projects, which were supposed to generate a total of 900 megawatt electricity, have remained idle for months causing an annual loss of Tk 918 crore to the government, said experts.
The costly fossil fuel-based power plants were initially awarded contracts to generate electricity within six months to mitigate the impending power crisis, but now with LNG-based power plants in use, there is no necessity to take electricity from those plants, they added.
Sources with the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) told that of those power plants, only Bangla Track’s diesel-based 100-MW plant at Nowapara is currently in operation, albeit at 60 to 70 per cent capacity.
The diesel-based power plants, which remain almost inoperative round the year, are Acorn’s 200-MW rental plant at Daudkandi, Aggreko’s 200-MW plant and APR’s 300-MW plant at Keraniganj and Paramount Group’s 200-MW in Baghabari. The 100-MW plant of Aggreko in Keraniganj was being run for just a couple of hours recently while the 300-MW plant of APR in Ghorshal was run at a third of its capacity this month. Baghabari was never used this year.
“We don’t have to use those plants at peak times when the consumers need maximum electricity for their use,” said a BPDB official.
“We generated the highest quantity of electricity, 12,783MW, on August 5 this year.
But we didn’t ask them to generate power from their plants. It means we’ve enough option to generate cheaper power,” he added.
Power Division Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus admitted that this ‘idle state’ of the costly diesel-based power plants was causing the haemorrhage of the government’s funds because of the capacity payments that the BPDB needs to pay to those power plants.
“Right now, we don’t have any other option but to continue paying them, as we have contracts,” he told.
According to the BPDB documents, the sale price of diesel-based power is more than Tk 20 per unit, for which the consumers on an average pay Tk 4.90 per unit.
According to the deals signed between the government and the diesel-run power plants, the government has to make the capacity payment to the plants even if they remain idle without generating even a single unit of electricity.
BPDB sources said each of the diesel-based power plants get 10 dollar per month for per kilowatt hours that means the government has to pay 10,000 dollar for per MW each month.
As the capacity of the diesel-based power is 9,00MW, which remains mostly idle over the year, the government has to pay the plants around US dollar 90 lakh a month, which stands at US dollar 10.8 crore (or Tk 918 crore) per year.
A BPDB official told that a diesel-based 900MW plant would not be necessary right now as some new plants would start generation within a few months.
According to a high-ranking BPDB official, “If you count the capacity payments of Tk 14 per unit, the amount for the government would be more than Tk 1,500 crore annually.”
Sources said the government in October 2017 awarded 2,000MW fuel-based power plants, including 1,000MW diesel-based plants, to the private sector. The contracts facilitated the investment in such a manner that if the government did not take any power from the plants, the latter would still get capacity payments.
In 2018, the government started importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the consumers to meet the demand. Right now, some 600MMCF of LNG are injected everyday to the national grid. The BPDB, the single power seller to the power distribution companies, benefits most from the LNG imports.
The BPDB has converted the biggest diesel-based 332-MW power plant of the Summit Group into gas from diesel. At present, it is getting 200 MMCF gas more per day than before.
According to the BPDB’s report in the 2017-18 fiscal year, Summit’s Meghnaghat power plant (which used diesel at that time) took Tk 1,650 crore against 830,206,729 KWH (units) of power generation while the diesel-based Bangla Track Power Unit 1 took Tk 134 crore for generating 43,398,996 units of electricity.