The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources started the year of 2021 to ensure 100 percent electrification in the country. The goal was also to succeed in the energy sector.
In the efforts to implement the government’s 100 percent electrification programme, the power division has supplied electricity across the country including remote areas through submarine cable and renewable energy. Along with the increase of electricity users, power outages have also decreased comparatively. Now, 99.75 percent of the people have access to electricity.
But there was no good news in the energy sector during the year. On the contrary, the supply of major fuel-gas has decreased day by day. The price of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) was out of reach of the consumers throughout the year. The much-anticipated exploration work at sea has not started yet. However, a small gas field has been discovered on land. In the last quarter of the year, the increase of diesel-kerosene prices have brought extreme sufferings to the economy and public life of the country. There were rumors of rising electricity prices throughout the year as the hike of fuel oil prices, which was not true finally.
Various ongoing development projects including Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari, Rampal and Patuakhali Coal Power plant, multiple oil pipelines have made little progress during the Covid-19 epidemic. Some 10 coal based power plants with low progress have been canceled due to the negative impact of the environment.
Electricity reached remote areas: Bangladesh has now transformed from a power-starved country into a power-surplus one. Bangladesh has now attained the capacity to generate 25,235 megawatts of electricity, including captive power, renewable energy and imported power. Now, 99.75 percent of the people have access to electricity. The number of electricity users has reached 4.16 crore.
The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has played a vital role in ensuring electricity for all in Bangladesh. Currently, 99.75 percent people have been brought under electricity coverage in the country.
The power division will supply electricity to remote areas of Kutubdia and Nijhum islands through submarine cables soon.
In November, 2019, the government laid a 15-km submarine cable on the sea bed for the first time to supply electricity to the southern island of Sandwip in Chattogram district.
In February last year, the government also opened a 1-km submarine cable, drawn under the Padma River, to provide electricity to some 20,000 consumers in two char areas in Shariatpur’s Naria upazila.
The government’s frantic efforts to ensure 100 percent electricity coverage have enabled the country to reach power to ‘Char Kukri Mukri’, a remote island in Bhola, through submarine cable.
Besides Char Kukri Mukri, the government has provided electricity to several other char areas of the Jamuna through submarine cables. The areas were known to be extremely inaccessible. Work is underway to deliver power to several other areas through submarine cable, BPDB officials said.
According to the power division, apart from boosting economic growth, increased power coverage has improved the lives of people in remote villages and created new income-generating opportunities for the people.
Officials also said that with the development of internet and information technology, people in rural areas are getting more economic opportunities and the spread of education is being accelerated while primary health care has reached people's doorsteps.
28th gas field: On August 9, the government announced a new gas field, which was discovered at Zakiganj in Sylhet. It is expected to produce 10 million cubic feet of gas per day from the country’s 28th gas field. It is estimated that there is a total of 6,800 crore cubic feet of gas.
Decreased gas supply: Currently, the daily gas demand is 430 crore cubic feet in the country. However, Petrobangla is supplying around 285 crore cubic feet of gas including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Last year it was 330 crore cubic feet of gas. The total gas supply is decreasing due to the depletion of domestic gas and LNG prices hike in the international market.
LPG market anarchy: The government is discouraging natural gas connections or supply in pipelines in the sector due to the gas crisis.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) had set new retail prices of LPG to prevent market anarchy for the first time on April 12 after a public hearing with all parties under a court order.
BERC is constantly adjusting LPG price every month based on the Saudi Contract Price (CP) of Propane and Butane. However, LPG operators in the country are not implementing the prices fixed by the regulator. As a result, the consumers have to buy LPG cylinders at higher prices.
People’s lives crushed by rising diesel prices: The government hiked the diesel and kerosene prices by Tk 15 per liter on November 3, citing rising prices in the world market, which has adversely affected the entire economy and people’s daily life. Bus fares were increased by 27 percent. The prices of daily commodities have also increased due to the hike of freight rates. Even though the price of oil has come down in the world market now, there is no initiative to reduce the price in Bangladesh.
Ban on 10 coal power plants: Considering the environmental impact, the government has banned 10 coal based power plant projects having a total capacity of 7391 megawatt. State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid announced the decision at a press conference on June 27.
Increased subsidies: In the last financial year (2020-21), the power sector had to pay a subsidy of Tk 11,700 crore. In the current financial year (2021-22), Tk 9,000 crore has been allocated for subsidies in the power sector. But it will be increased due to increases in power generation cost. Sources said that in the current financial year, it will require Tk 16,437 crore for subsidy.
Meanwhile, subsidies on LNG have also increased due to its price rises in the international market. In the current budget, there is an allocation of taka one thousand crore for subsidy in the energy sector. However, in the first 5 months of the financial year, the government subsidy for LNG was taka 10 thousand crore. The price of LPG in the international market is rising still.
Work on Rooppur project is going on: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the first reactor pressure vessel reactor of the country’s first under construction nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna on October 10. Construction work of the power plant with two units, with the total capacity of 2,400MW is going on fast. Despite the epidemic, around 25,000 workers are working day and night to implement this project. It would produce and add to the national grid by 2023-2024.