The government is planning to import more electricity from neighboring India as currently the government is paying high subsidy due to generating power from liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The government is subsidising the PDB on an average Tk 700 crore per month due to power generation from LNG. In such a context, the government is thinking that importing electricity from India can be a good option.
According to Petrobangla and PDB, the government is importing LNG () to meet the growing demand for gas in the country.
More than half of the amount of gas that Petrobangla is supplying by mixing LNG with domestic natural gas is being used in public-private power plants.
An official of Petrobangla said the current price of imported LNG is around Tk 27 per cubic feet. And it is being sold to PDB only at taka 4. PDB is selling electricity at a subsidized price even though it gets gas at Tk 4. In such a situation, several officials of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources have suggested import of power from India by reducing generation cost from LNG.
The issue is also under consideration at the top level of government.
Petrobangla has decided to increase the cost for gas-fired power plants due to expensive LNG. Even though the country's power generation capacity is higher than the demand, energy experts believe that such a situation has been created due to wrong policy-planning in power generation and distribution.
Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has sought Tk 23.28 billion in subsidy to cover the losses it incurred over the last six and a half years for selling imported electricity at subsidised rates.
From 2014-15 to December of FY 2020-21, BPDB incurred loss for selling electricity at tariffs lower than the purchase cost from Indian public and private power plants. During the period, the BPDB purchased 34.54 billion units of electricity at a cost of Tk 188 billion.
The state-run power distributor earned Tk 164.38 billion in revenue against the power import cost, BPDB assistant secretary Kawsar Hossain informed the ministry recently.
“PDB has an obligation to pay the bills for electricity import in time,” he said, adding that they will be able to pay the bills if they get the subsidy.
In its letter, the BPDB also expressed hope that the electricity generation cost will come down when the nuclear and coal-based power plants come into operation.
Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, said the priority of the government is to supply uninterrupted electricity at affordable prices. Besides generating electricity with different sources of fuel, it is also being imported. Imports will increase further in the future. But it can happen not only from India, but also from other nearby countries. The government has that plan.
In October 2013, Bangladesh imported electricity for the first time from West Bengal of India through Bheramara Gridline in Kushtia. Currently Bangladesh is importing 1,160 MW of electricity daily from India.
Power Division officials said, currently the country’s power generation capacity is around 21,000MW. Some large power projects are expected to generate another 4,500 megawatts of electricity in the next two years. However, the average demand of electricity in the country is around 9000MW to 10,000MW.
According to the projection of the power division, the country’s highest electricity demand will be 14,500 megawatt (MW) during the upcoming summer.
An energy expert said, ‘The government has adopted the wrong policy in power generation and distribution. The people have to suffer. It will bring more disasters in the future. '
Bangladesh is going to import 1,496 MW of electricity from the under construction 1600MW coal power plant of Adani group at Jharkhand of Indian. It is expected that the power plant will start its generation by June 2022 and will supply Bangladesh. PDB has already completed all the other processes including the purchase agreement with the power plant. This electricity will be added to the national grid through Bogra in Bangladesh.
Besides, it has also planned to import 500MW more electricity from India by 2026. A letter of intent (LOI) was also issued on January 30 last year.
However, Bangladesh is facing a serious gas crisis. Currently, some 22 power plants having a total capacity of around 2800MW of electricity have shut down due to shortage of gas.
A senior official of the Power Cell said, “due to the gas crisis last summer, we could not run 3,000 MW of gas-fired power plants. This time the target has been set to generate 7,650 MW of electricity from gas. Currently an average of 800 million cubic feet of gas is being supplied. This supply will need to be increased by another 750 million cubic feet. Besides, 4,570 MW of furnace oil, 750 MW of coal, 50 MW of renewable energy (hydro and solar) and 1,050 MW of electricity will be imported from India.