The Financial Express

Services of rental plants can be taken on-call basis like Uber, says PM’s energy adviser

| Updated: September 29, 2021 10:27:36

Services of rental plants can be taken on-call basis like Uber, says PM’s energy adviser

Power purchase contracts with rental and quick rental power plants could be made and extended on an on-call basis like Uber service, said Prime Minister’s energy adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.

“Rental and quick rental plants are our national assets. We can take their service on an on-call basis,” he said while addressing a webinar titled ‘Rental, Quick Rental Power Plant, Past, Present and Future’, organised by Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB), on Tuesday.     

The energy adviser’s comments came amid huge criticisms against the most costly electricity that the government has been purchasing for a long time from the private sector.

The plants were set up on an unsolicited basis as part of the government’s strategy to find a quick solution to the nagging power crisis that prevailed over a decade back.

Despite the surplus generation of more than 4,000 MW in the power system, many of the rental and quick rental plants are still operational following the extension of their contracts with the government on a number of occasions.

Defending the rental and quick rental’s continuous operation, Dr Elahi said these plants sometimes become essential because of the volatility in the global fuel market.

“We’ve to switch from one fuel to another for power generation due to this volatility. Now the price of fuel is rising on the global market,” he said, adding that the peer unit LNG is being imported now at $28-29 which was between $7-8 a few months back.     

The online seminar, chaired by FERB Chairman Arun Karmakar, was also addressed by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) chairman Belayet Hossain, Power Cell director general Mohammad Hossain, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) director (research) Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA) President Imran Karim, director Navidul Haque and BPDB Member Delwar Hossain.

Former director-general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Mustafa K Mujeri made the keynote presentation on the topic.

In his presentation, Dr Mujeri said per unit cost differs between individual quick rentals and IPPs at different plant factors. 

For gas, the per unit cost varies between Tk. 4.75-Tk. 5.39 for quick rental plants while the range is Tk 1.40 to Tk 3.80 for independent power producers (IPPs).

The variations occur due to differences in fuel cost as well as fixed and variable operation and maintenance costs.

For furnace oil, the per unit cost is between Tk. 15.21 and Tk 15.30 for QRPPs while the cost varies between Tk. 16.27 and Tk. 16.70 for IPPs, he said. 

Dr Khandoker Golam Moazzem said the country now has to pay huge money to the owners of the private plant operators due to wrong planning in power generation which results in a huge surplus generation. 

Defending the existence of surplus power generation, BPDB chairman Belayet Hossain said the Bangladesh power system needs at least 40 per cent surplus generation.

Currently, the BPDB generates 14,000 MW power against its total generation capacity of 24,000 MW which is very much justified to keep the system running.   

Imran Karim said the country now can utilize a maximum of 82 per cent of its capacity to generate electricity while 18 per cent capacity remained unused.

Navidul Haque said “no power, no payment” could be a very economical option for contracts in the power sector.

If such a contract prevails in the application, the government does not need to be worried about the power supply in the peak hours, he added.

Mohammad Hossain, the director-general of Power Cell, said now the reserve margin is only 22 per cent and there is no surplus electricity in the country.

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