Work on framing a new Power System Master Plan (PSMP) is unlikely to begin within the current year as no terms of reference (ToR) has been finalised with the funding agency.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the project, is yet to communicate with the implementing body about the ToR, official sources at the Power Cell said.
“We had a meeting with JICA in March last year just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the communication between the two sides remained almost off and only very recently we contacted JICA on the issue,” said Abdur Rouf, a director of the Power Cell.
“But, no major development has been made yet in this regard,” he added.
He, however, said normally a PSMP is prepared every 5 years based on the revision of the previous one.
“The next PSMP is supposed to be framed in 2021 as the last one was prepared in 2016. But the b pandemic disrupted the whole process of communication that ultimately delayed the start of the PSMP work,” he said.
Official sources said there will be two substantial changes in the nature of the new PSMP during its framing.
One is that Bangladesh will have active participation in the process and will have the right to accommodate the Power Division’s view to make it an independent master plan without any bias to Japanese view, said another official of the Power Cell.
The second change, he said, will be a paradigm shift in the use of local coal and gas in primary fuel selection for power generation.
Normally, Japanese have bias on selection of coal for primary fuel sourcing, he said, adding that Bangladesh wants special emphasis on the use of imported gas.
The sources said though JICA will fund the project, Bangladesh does not want to remain fully dependent on the funding agency.
Rather, the government wants JICA to assist Bangladesh to share technical knowledge in this regard and train up local manpower for the task.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid also said that the use of coal will get a lesser priority in the coming PSMP as a study conducted by an American firm found that use of local coal will not be feasible and commercially viable for power generation in the country.
He said the global market of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is more stable than that of coal and the price of LNG is falling.
“That’s why we’ll lay emphasis on LNG import,” he told UNB.
Official sources said the Power Division already initiated a move to cancel 12 coal-based power plant projects having total proposed combined capacity of 7,461 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
Proposed Moheskhali 1,320MW coal-fired power plant, Ashuganj (Patuakhali) 1,320MW coal-based power plant and 1,200MW Uttarbanga super thermal plant in the public sector are likely to be dropped from the government’s plan.
In the existing PSMP 2016, about 60,000 MW of power generation was targeted by 2041 in which primary fuel mix was set as each 35 percent will be coming from coal and gas while the remaining 30 percent will be covered by liquid fuel, renewable, nuclear and other sources.
At present, the country's power generation capacity is about 21,395 MW, of which some about 50 percent of power (10,869 MW) is being generated from gas while less than 10 percent (1,768 MW) is from coal, about 30 percent of power is generated from imported liquid fuel, reports UNB.