The ongoing crisis is not electricity, it is a crisis of energy, said Professor Dr Badrul Imam, Department of Geology, University of Dhaka.
He said, “We have enough power plants with 22,500MW combined capacity while the nationwide electricity demand is around 16,000 MW, but generation is 13,500 MW.
“That means there is a 1500-2000 MW shortfall due to the energy crisis. The three main fuels for power generation are gas, coal and furnace oil. Our gas-fired power plants are capable of generating 11,500 MW. But due to the gas shortage the plants are generating 6,000 MW only.”
Secondly, the professor said the country’s coal power plants have the capacity for generating 3,500 MW of electricity. But the power plants are failing to generate more than 1,000 MW due to the coal shortage.
“There is coal in the global market but we can’t buy it because we do not have sufficient USD. It is not that the energy crisis suddenly hit the Bangladesh. The problem has intensified over a long period and the outcomes are only getting visible.”
Prof Badrul said the 1,320-MW coal-fired Payra power plant in Patuakhali is one of the largest and most efficient stations in the country. However, the plant has an outstanding coal bill of $300 million for 10 months. As a result, the supplier has suspended coal supply.
“Our power division already knew the situation but failed to solve it. There is no immediate solution to the overall crisis in our energy sector. For the time being, to get rid of load shedding, USD should be released quickly,” he said.
He continued that after the situation got complicated, the government released $100 million for the outstanding bills of the Payra power plant. The supplier may now send some coal immediately but it will take at least 25 days from the day it is loaded on the ship.
On the other hand, he said many liquid fuel-fired power plants are closed because traders are not getting money to buy fuel.
“Here too, the Power Division is failing. That’s why I say once again, to overcome the immediate ongoing crisis, the USD supply in the energy sector must be increased.”