The government has initiated a move to gradually upgrade the existing conventional grid system to a “Smart Grid” within the next few years.
As part of the move, initially the smart grid system will be established under the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) and Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC).
According to official sources, Power Cell, a technical wing of the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, has already appointed the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a US-based consulting firm, to conduct a survey to assess the current state of the national grid and connected utilities and also identify needs for the new system.
BCG already submitted a report titled: “Technical Assistance for the Smart Grid Roadmap for Bangladesh Power Utilities”.
The BGC conducted the survey under financial support of the US Trade and Development Agency and as a follow-up, the USTDA signed an agreement with Power Cell on June 1 to provide $2 million as grant for the next survey and technical assistance.
Power Cell officials said under the agreement, BCG will conduct a more comprehensive and detailed study of the overall power system, as well as of all power utilities, assessing their technical and financial needs.
“Actually, a US consulting firm will prepare a roadmap to convert the overall system into a smart grid system where everything will be operated digitally and an automated system will be established replacing the existing manual system,” Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, told UNB.
According to the Power Division’s official statistics, as of September 13, 2023, the country's power generation capacity was 27,834 MW including off-grid renewable and captive power, while the highest generated in a day was 15,648 MW.
The length of transmission lines is 14,934 circuit kilometres, there are 63,895 grid substations, and the length of distribution lines is 643,000 km.
The total number of consumers is 45.4 million (4.54 crore) and system loss is 7.65 percent.
The government set a target to increase the power generation capacity to 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.
Officials said the government has taken the move to establish the smart grid in order to properly manage the burgeoning system, which has been growing fast on the back of strong economic growth.
They said the consulting firm BCG will submit its next report in December, based on which the PGCB and DPDC will undertake pilot projects to implement the smart grid system.
Meanwhile, in the report submitted with the initial survey, BGC identified cyber security as a core area where power utilities including the PGCB are lagging behind in ensuring grid security and stability.
It identified eight core challenges and 28 technology solutions and initiatives to implement a roadmap for establishing the Smart Grid, while 15 challenges have been identified for the distribution segment of the power sector
The core challenges have been identified as power interruptions, inconsistent power quality, manual operation and limited visibility of assets, increasing variability of supply, improving billing efficiency and reducing non-technical loss, improved customer satisfaction, lack of electric vehicle charging points and incomplete revenue realisation.
BCG also identified five challenges for the transmission segment of the power sector, namely high frequency loss, rising transmission loss, manual operation of grid assets and reactive VAR (Volt-Amps Reactive) management.
Lastly two challenges have been identified for the generation segment of the sector: high frequency variation and power interruption.